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The meeting of the mechanical minds

After putting it off for several months, I finally had to go downstairs, call The Appliance Army together, and attempt to pass on to them some of the learning which I have accumulated.

This is learning gained during the past several years, when I went from being self-employed to working as a teacher for the state. I owe MnSCU (State Colleges and Universities), for whom I teach heating-ventilating-air-conditioning at the Wadena campus, a huge thank you for teaching me better ways to administer a bureaucracy. Of course, I'm not An Administrator, I'm just a lowly peon in the bigger scheme of things, but I'm a pretty good observer.

And I was going to use some of this observation on the units downstairs. You'll see.

"OK," I said to General Electric the Washing Machine, "let's call this bunch of appliances together.

"Shall I do roll call?" he asked me. He loves to do roll call. He's an administrator, and woe to the appliance that doesn't show up for these meetings. "Sure," I replied.

"ATTENTION!" he shouted. "Answer when called. Sir Nautilus the Water Heater?"

"Present," said he. Then he turned to Mrs. Frigidaire the Freezer and said, in a stage whisper, "I just peed on the floor." Mrs. Frigidaire sympathetically said to him: "Now, don't you worry. Mr. Black and Decker the Wet Vac needs something to do."

She's as cold as ice, normally. I wondered if perhaps age had begun to thaw her. I'd have to talk her into a physical. I remembered the last one with no little trepidation. She wanted a woman to do it. I had no one qualified, I told her. She was insulted, and for the next month, I had to take a blow torch to my ice cream.

"Mr. Armstrong the Oil Furnace?" shouted The General.

"Present," he coughed. Soot flew from his diverter. He needs a personal exam, but he too, like all the rest of them, hates it when I root around in his innards. Blackie, which is what we call The Vac, rolled over there and tidied him up.

"Mr. Black and Decker?" shouted The General.

"Here," he wheezed, vacuuming himself off and saluting with his crevice tool. I liked him. He was kind of a blowhard, but that came in handy.

"LADY KENMORE THE DRYER," shouted The General. Even though she's right next to him, he aggravates her every chance he gets.

"HERE!" she hollered back. "WE'RE NOT ALL DEAF LIKE YOU, YOU KNOW?" She hit dryerpause a couple of years back, and has hot flashes the likes of which scorch my undershorts. I've tried to talk to The General about ways he could help her, but he seems to delight in sending her extra wet towels.

With her present, that left John Dear the Riding Mower (gay as the day is long, but a lot of fun), Vic Edison the Record Player (stuck on 78 RPMs and will only play old John Phillip Sousa marches), and last but not least, Big Screen Sony the Television. "Big Sony" appears to still have links to the Japanese Mafia, judging from how many billiard games and horse races he watches. He wants my credit card number, but what? He thinks I'm crazy? Just because I talk to appliances? Uh uh.

I forgot Madam Hot Point the Cook Stove, she just reminded me, which she did by burning my morning oat meal into volcanic ash on the bottom of the pan.

"Let's get started," I told them. "First on the agenda is the future." Always have an agenda, I've learned by watching at school, that makes it hard for anyone to bring up any uninteresting and trivial individual subject matter. "Does anyone have any ideas on what we should be concerned with?"

Sir Nautilus raised one pipe and said, "Let's talk about energy saving methods."

I said: "I'm glad you brought that up. But we talked about energy saving methods a couple of years ago, so ..."

He interrupted me: "But all you did was show up unexpectedly and take away part of my burner, and one of Madam Hot Point's surface burners, and John Dear's office heater -- you know there's no heat out there for him."

We saved energy, didn't we? "I know that saving energy means we all have to sacrifice ..."

Mrs. Frigidaire the Freezer asked: "What exactly have you sacrificed?"

Oh, this was easy: "I've eliminated some of my personal staff, and cut my operating budget. I too have to economize, you know."

She replied: "Name one staff member you laid off, please, just for the record?"

"Well," I replied, "I'll have to get back to you on that one, but listen, we're here to talk about the future. Does anyone have any more ideas?"

Silence. Hah! Success! That does it for staff buy-in for this month.

"We're adjourned. Next time, we'll talk about more of your wonderful energy ideas."

Thanks for being here.