Monday, March 06, 2023

My screwed-up imperfection

This post celebrates an achievement, something that was completed today. I suppose it’s also a sort of assertion of my right to be me, in all my screwed-up imperfection. Mainly, it’s evidence that, one way or another, eventually, I do get things completed.

Three weeks ago, I began the process of getting my dryer repaired. Anyone familiar with this story may well echo the very words my brain shouted at me: “Why TF did it take you nearly five months?!!!” Real me replied, “Because it did. It took that long for the same reasons everything takes so long; this was no different.” For that very reason, every time I burst through the barriers and accomplish something, I celebrate.

Quite some time ago now, I stopped complaining about being tired (except when it’s unusually bad), about having trouble focusing, and about having a thoroughly unreliable memory. That’s because after several years of complaining where it matters (to my doctors), nothing’s changed very much, and so, I decided my energy, such as it is, was better spent on finding ways to adapt. I’ve come up with specific ways to cope with what appears to be the way things will remain, and one of the most important things has been to stop beating myself up over my numerous failures—or, failures to complete, as the case may be.

Which brings me to the dryer: Everything followed the usual path.

At first, I simply kept forgetting to do anything about it, mainly because in the summer I usually hang the washing outside to dry, anyway, but the truth is, I’d have kept forgetting at any time of year—until laundry time, probably. Then, I’d forget again. I also had trouble focusing on it. It took an unusual alignment of things to break through those barriers.

First, I looked for the receipt, but couldn’t find it. Then, I looked through my bank statements to find the exact date I bought the washer and dryer. That way, I could register the products—once I found the serial numbers, which I knew were on the receipt. I figured I’d have to pull the dryer from the wall to find it on the back (and heat pump dryers are HEAVY…), but I had a brainstorm and looked in the door opening. Sure enough, they both had a sticker there with the model and serial numbers. I took photos of the stickers with my phone so I wouldn’t have to run back and forth or decipher my handwriting. This photo tactic is actually another adaption I rely on.

Next, I went to the manufacturer’s NZ website to register the machines. Then, I rang their help line, and the very friendly person told me they don’t schedule repairs, and I’d have to ring the repair company, located a few suburbs south of me (a suburb in NZ is a neighborhood in Americanese). The clearly confused, and so, somewhat flustered friendly person there told me they need a job number to establish it’s a warranty repair. Through talking with her, I worked out that the best thing to do was to ring the store where I bought it, and they would coordinate the repairs. This was, of course, what I originally realised months ago.

I don’t remember everything going on at the time the dryer failed, however, it was the day before the third anniversary of Nigel’s death, and not long after the first anniversary of Jake’s death, and at that time I just couldn’t cope with dealing with bureaucracy, so I didn’t. At some point after that, I became convinced I needed to find the receipt—even though I knew that wasn’t true, because many years ago we needed the same retailer to organise repairs on something else. Somehow, I managed to both know and forget all that.

Three weeks ago, then, after the other two friendly phone calls, I rang the store, and the very friendly person looked up my purchase on their system, just as they’d done all those many years ago, just as I always knew (and also forgot) they would, and booked the repair for me. It took, at most, 15 minutes (probably less). I got a confirmation email within minutes.

The repair company contacted me and a technician came to the house on February 20. He determined the motor was faulty, and said they’d order the parts, but couldn’t say for sure how long it would take. The next day, I received a text telling me the parts had been ordered and it should take 3 to 7 business days. The following Tuesday (5 business days later), they texted me to say the part was in and they wanted to come and collect the dryer on Friday morning (March 3). They did, and the guy told me that they were quite busy, so he didn’t know how long it would take but they’d send me a message when it was done. That message came at at 3:56pm that same day. They wanted to bring it back today.

The dryer was delivered early this afternoon and is now back in service. The guy told me that one of their technicians just happened to have time and fixed it on Friday. After they left, I immediately put on a load of washing. Of course.

The core of this particular saga isn’t about the dryer, or even about faults in my memory alone, but instead, it’s about how those faults, combined with my inability to focus, are responsible for so much remaining undone for so long. It isn’t merely that I forget things, it’s that my poor or missing focus means I don’t even realise that I need to remember something. So I don’t.

I’ve developed a system to help with that, and that’s a huge topic in itself (I’ve been working on it, and a post about it, for months). Right now, the important thing is that it’s part of the adaptations I’ve made to cope with my current reality. The single most import thing I’ve done, though, is to stop tearing myself to shreds over things I haven’t done. Bullying, even of oneself, is never a motivator of change: It only creates more pain. The system I created is to deal with the core problem—my inability to focus—and stopping my self-bullying has removed the unnecessary pain, shame, and, perhaps, self-loathing that self-bullying causes.

As for the dryer repair, I absolutely cannot recall any time a provider of services (like repairs) actually did what they said they’d do in the timeframe they said they would. To do so with such great communication and friendly staff kind of raises this nearly to the level of being unbelievable. It was a thoroughly refreshing interaction. So much so, in fact, that I rang the retailer to let them know how awesome the service was: People only ever ring to complain, so I wanted to do something positive.

This won’t be the last thing that’ll take forever to complete (I have several small projects that are far older than a mere five months). With some luck, the systems I’ve developed will help make delays a choice (like the delays of those old small projects), and not just something slipping through the cracks like the dryer repairs did. We’ll see. Right now, though, I burst through the barriers and accomplished something. I’m celebrating the win.

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