A Man, His Oven, and His Wife.


A few weeks ago my oven decided to quit on me. I didn’t get the usual two weeks notice. There was no hint or mention of being unhappy with the job. No warning signs or any complaints what so ever!

The last thing I asked it to do was a simple task. Slow cook a pot roast with caramelized sweet onions, salt, pepper, a few sprigs of fresh parsley, a dash or two of naturally fermented soy sauce and two bottles of Victory Ale. I don’t think that was too much to ask for? Maybe adding the artichoke hearts with wild mushroom stuffing sent it over the edge. I will never know.

So now what do I do? The answer seemed simple. Unfortunately it wasn’t.

At first I was upset, and felt heartbroken and betrayed. However I began to look at my dilemma with a positive attitude. I thought I would turn this infraction into an opportunity by upgrading my oven with a newer, more efficient one.

As the images and details refreshed on the screen in front of me, the choices and options were endless. I was confronted with an array of amenities. The varieties ran the gamut of convection ovens, duel fuel ovens, double ovens, steam injected ovens, ovens with built in pizza stones, self-cleaning ovens, the list went on.

My imagination and creativity would be unbound. I would become the Salvatore Dali of the pastry arts, where dreams and fantasies would intermingle with flavors and textures and meld into timeless surreal sensations displayed simply on ceramic canvases. There was only one thing stopping me. The size of the hole left by my perfidious help. It measured 22 x 38-inches. Little did I know, I was left with a glass slipper.

I would find that glass slipper, but it would be at the expense of my dreams. As it turns out there was only one oven in the entire world that would fit those dimensions. And its only acclamation was a digital touch pad, which replaced the manual adjustment knobs on my 1983 oven. Aside from a full kitchen remodel it was my only alternative.

I hesitated. Then picked up the phone and began pressing the numbers to call in my request. As I entered each digit my dreams dissipated until there was only one number left and then it they were completely gone.

The voice on the other end of the phone greeted me with gleeful anticipation. We discussed the terms, came to an agreement and the deal was done. As part of the process he told me they would send a representative to determine if any adjustment need to be made to accommodate the oven. I assured them that it was unnecessary. I had already researched it and it was the only (EXPLETIVE)(and no I didn’t use it) oven that would fit. They insisted and few days later they showed up and confirmed what I already knew.

That night Jane made arrangements to have the oven delivered and installed. The next day we received several calls from the salesperson and other employees confirming the delivery date and installation time. At least that’s what we were led to believe.

That Friday, during yet another (EXPLETIVE) snowfall, the phone rang and the voice on the other end informed me that they would be here in the next ten minutes. Although my reveries had been seriously scarred, I was looking forward to initiate my newly acquired cohort into submission. (I couldn’t wait to bake something!)

A few minutes later the phone rang again and the voice on the other end was panicked and rushed. The tone was timid yet forceful. It exclaimed, “I am in front of your house. Can you please come out and show where to come.” These directions were given to everyone we had both spoken to and again to the voice on the other end just minutes ago. I replied, “The door is on the side of the house.” I just happened to be in my shorts getting the place ready for the installation. Jane had already gone down to open the door to let them in.

The voice sounded out insisting that I come out and show him the way. In the background I could hear Jane calling them. I made my way to the entry door to our apartment and looked down the stairwell. Jane had opened the door and standing on the landing screaming, “Here! Over here!” The wind and snow was blowing sideways in the background and I knew she was becoming unraveled.

As the sound of her voice entered my left ear, I heard the voice anxiously and persistently yell in my right ear. “You please come outside. Do you want the box? Do you want the box?” At the same time I hear Jane voice begin to change in tone and elevate into an exasperated yell, blurting out, “What box? What are you talking about? Aren’t you going to install it? It has to go into the wall. Why would I need the box?” The words flowed out of her mouth like the torrents of the Yangtze River (the longest and highest river in China), tumultuous and raging. She had transgressed to the next level of unforgiving intolerance.

Yet the voice did not bend. Like a trumpet determined to drown out all the other instruments around it with impending dominance, it blared out once again. “With the box or without?”

By then I had hung up the phone. I couldn’t believe what was happening. This man was seconds away from having his head handed to him. Jane hardly ever raises her voice and, for the most part, is always in control of her emotions. However, like all of us, there are certain things that tend to draw out the hidden, raw and unparalleled natural instinct to survive. Incompetence, a lack of communication skills, and being disregarded does exactly that.

Fortunately for him, he was impervious to any distraction or confrontation; even that of an unhinged, incensed woman. Although not very good at his job, he was combat ready and apparently well versed in disguising his ineptitude with speed, confusion, and deception.

Before we could get a word out, with receipt in hand, Jane and I found ourselves alone with a wall oven in the middle of the kitchen floor, a still empty cabinet, and an unnerving silence caused by the vacuum created by a wailing voice hurriedly making its way down the stairs and out the door. “We only deliver.”

I was left in limbo once again. I had an oven, but could only look at it. Stunned, in disbelief, I turned to see Jane with phone in hand. She was talking to Dwayne, the salesman, demanding an explanation of what had just occurred. I could feel the sweat beading up as he attended every word coming out of Jane’s mouth. I had her back though, and sounding out yelled, “Ask to speak with his manager. Ask to speak with his manager.” As I did Jane hit him with, “I demand a discount! Why did this happen? You told us we were set up for an installation! You called and told us we would be charged for the installation! Now what am I suppose to do! I have a wall oven sitting in the middle of my kitchen! Company is coming up from D.C. and I haven’t had an oven in weeks!” The last thing I heard was her repeating our phone number to him. Yes, the same one he called us on several times before.

About twenty minutes later the phone rang again. They would send someone on Sunday to install it minus the charge.

It’s Saturday night. I moved the oven to the living room just a few steps away. Tomorrow is Sunday and I can’t wait to see what happens. Stay tuned.

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