By Dick Walsh
There we were, each of us 30-something, all college grads, all employed, and all drinking expensive red wine, the nine-dollar-a-bottle kind. Ten of us, a mix of middle-school teachers and lawyers, were partying.
Peg and I had just moved into our first new home. Everything was pristine—new floors, countertops, wall-to-wall carpeting, and … new appliances. Although it was a housewarming party, just about anything would get our friends to our new home for an evening of wine and cheese, wine with dinner, wine with games, and wine.
Soon after the last guests arrived, Peg put a lasagna in the oven and set the timer and the oven’s temperature. What could be simpler?
That’s when Archie did it.
The man who accidentally set his fishpond on fire and, in resetting his router’s password, inflicted a power outage upon his entire neighborhood–that man now struck in our home. Archie leaned against the stove as he regaled us with yet another adventure, but when he gestured, his butt slid a lever on the front of the stove, locking the oven door and engaging the oven’s self-clean cycle. In that instant, the oven baking our evening meal reset itself to become hot as hell.
Slide the lever back? Nope, it’s locked—a safety feature. Turn down the temperature? Can’t when it’s on the self-clean cycle. Tamper with the timer? To what end? Ten minutes of brainstorming (and wine) later, I took off to the garage and flipped the circuit breaker. Yes! We stemmed the tide about two-thirds of the way to the nine-hundred-degree hell closing in on Peg’s lasagna.
But wait, there’s more. New house means… owner’s manuals! I found the manual in a kitchen drawer and got the customer service number for GE. I called. With refilled goblets, our guests huddled around.
[Music] “GE… we bring good things to life. We also may record this call for quality control purposes. How may we help you?”
Pretending I had not been drinking was a struggle as I explained our predicament to the fine gentleman. “So, we need to get my wife’s lasagna out of GE’s oven.”
Of course, he had questions. I answered them, irrelevant as some of them were.
After a brief period of silence, his words were slow and deliberate as he spoke to recap our conversation. “So, if I understand what you’re telling me, you are baking lasagna in a GE oven on the ‘self-clean’ cycle, you are a lawyer, and you are asking GE to help you override a safety feature that is keeping you out of a nine-hundred-degree oven. Is that correct?”
“Well, when you put it that way … but can you help us?”
“Sure, I can. You’re talking to GE.”
I breathed a sigh of relief and gave our guests a thumbs up.
“Your phone is working, isn’t it?”
I stumbled. “Yes ….”
“Call the nearest pizza joint and order out. Good luck. And thank you for calling GE.”
Dick, and his wife, Peg, split their time between The Villages and their home in southcentral Pennsylvania. Peg is a retired middle-school teacher and Dick is a retired trial judge. They are the parents of two great kids, Hilary (married to Kyle) and Danny. They recently became first-time grandparents to Dylan.