You probably talk to your furniture and appliances from time to time. Admit it. Everybody does. We often have to deal with an uncooperative folding chair or toaster oven that refuses to perform as promised by an overoptimistic advertising department.

Once released from the strict confinement of their factories and warehouses these manufactured creatures often begin to exhibit unmistakable signs of independence and even rebellion. We are being overly optimistic when we think we are their masters just because we have the original receipts and warranties.

I am now sitting in my contrary office chair in front of my insubordinate PC . I’ve named this beastly seat “Shifty” and I can hear him snickering now. You might insist it’s just the squeaky wheels I hear, but I know better. Shifty was once an obedient servant and a comfort. He would tilt back on command to give me a rest after a rough session writing a blog. Shifty doesn’t allow that anymore so I’m trying to get used to always sitting at attention.

Shifty has also disabled the height adjustment lever. I am sitting on two thick pillows now to reach eye level and avoid another painful stiff neck episode. It started one morning when I plopped down into the seat to check my email and suddenly realized I’d plunged a half foot deeper than normal because Shifty was in a playful mood.

“You got me again, Shifty, ” I shouted. “Something has snapped in my sacroiliac and I almost lost my breakfast. If you don’t calm down and behave (stop that snickerking) I’m going to sell you very cheap at my next garage sale to the meanest looking heavyweight gorilla who comes along.” Shifty didn’t reply, but the snickering stopped and I was elevated several inches.

I have an automatic recliner chair that can become horizontal to rest my old bones and surviving muscles. I’m afraid it’s been talking to Shifty because once it ignored my pushbutton command to return to upright. A home alone guy like me can be trapped in the grip of this faux leather monster for hours. Luckily I reached the EMT’s with my flip phone and was rescued. These heroes were mostly older guys who understood my situation and were sympathetic. If the massage button had also jammed, I might have been rubbed raw.

These rebels haven’t taken over completely. I’ve found they do respond to threats. Once, years ago, arriving home after a grueling work day and a challenging commute, my wife Barbara, (the love of my life and now with the angels) served me a delicious supper and a soothing glass of wine. Then she said calmy, “Before you go to bed, Sweetheart, please fix the refrigerator.”

FIX THE REFRIGERATOR???. I choked on my chablis. How does one fix a refrigerator? I thought Her post mortem was accurate. Even the inside light was out and there were indications of melting pork chops.

What was I to do? The family’s entire perishable food supply was endangered, not to mention the steep cost of repair or replacement. “Oh, okay”, I said as calmly as possible.. “I’ll fix the refrigerator before I turn in. I hoped the unfaithful appliance would hear all of my confidant remarks and my professional tone of command. “We’ll check the inside vitals and see what’s going on,” I said, quoting Alan Alda’s comments in a MASH episode.

I opened the kitchen drawer that I used as a tool kit and said to my imaginary assisstant, “Philipshead screwdriver”. Then I swung the dead hulk around and pointed a flashlight into the mysterious interior, hoping I’d find helpful signs saying “Tighten here” or “Reattach this”, but there were none.

Not wanting to just sit there staring, I began to scold the refrigerator. “You have no right to break down without notice after only ten years of off and on service,”I shouted. “Take that you unfaithful servant,” I screamed as I jabbed wildly with my Philipshead screwdriver. Suddendly there was a harummph sound and a wonderful whirring and I realized I’d raised Lazarus.

“Yes, I got her going again,” I told my wife later. It was only a hung up solenoid.” I’d remembered the “solenoid” word from a Popular Mechanics article . I wasn’t sure what it was, but it sounded quite professional..




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