Saturday, October 10, 2009


Behold our bedroom. The red blanket is a two-year-old electric Sunbeam Imperial.

In my mind, the brand name, stands for "reliable, solid, dependable, Good Housekeeping approved."

The blanket was a carefully researched purchase. Two years ago when we had a dial-up modem, and excruciatingly slow internet, I went on line and checked all the stores, price, color, looked at pictures of the controls. And finally ordered the deluxe Sunbeam online from JC Penny's.

Well ... It's not heating properly.

Actually, I didn't want red, I wanted brown -- rich brown -- to replace our ten-year-old brown electric blanket that fits in with the old-fashioned "attic" decor of our bedroom -- exposed raw beams in the ceiling -- exposed brick walls.

Our dear old brown blanket provides hi-lo-adequate heat, but the LED light doesn't work in one of the two controls that lets you adjust the heat on your side of the bed.

Actor/singer, self-educated electrician JC, who has infinite patience once he's on a FIX project, had us both kneeling on the braided rug, comparing the two round, plastic controls -- the one that worked, and the one that didn't work.

The bottom of each control has a DO NOT OPEN sign on it.

As JC bravely proceeded to open his control, following his directions, I opened mine. In the course of an hour, peering with magnifying glass, flashlights, and tiny screwdrivers, we discovered that one control had a teeny, tiny, loose wire.

With his trusty soldering iron, JC labored over it, and finally soldered the teeny, tiny wire so that it connected a tiny, skinny, half-inch, bulb-like tube.

It took a while to test; to realize the light still didn't work, but if I turned the switch on my control to a twelve-noon position, my side of the bed would heat up. By moving the control to different positions on the imaginary clock, I found a position at 5 that gave me the heat I needed.

We laughed because of the time it took (because it wasn't very convenient to use the imaginary clock), but we saluted each other with a high-five and a noisy air-kiss.

That's when I noticed a bump, a small egg appeared just below my knee. "Housemaids knee" said my Malibu doctor pal, whom I chat with on the phone.

Though it took all winter (at least three months) of nightly massaging with an electric massager to get my knee back to normal, we successfully used the dear old brown blanket, and put it away for the summer.

Alas, the following October, the one control light that worked, no longer worked either. That's why I did the research, and purchased the Sunbeam.

Ah me ... Why is it that new things create new problems, and problems with new products take hours, sometimes drag on for days? The Sunbeam's manual ... oh dear, I didn't seem to be able to follow its overly detailed instructions, and I needed a magnifier to check the serial numbers, the who-to-call number.

The first winter with the Sunbeam we re-read manual, more than once, before calling customer service -- called twice, but listening to the long announcement, got impatient, annoyed, and hung up.

(It was an extra cold winter. We used my office's portable radiator, and a quilt, till the weather got warmer. Reprieved, we put the problem out of our minds, as we put away the Sunbeam, radiator and quilt.)

Okay -- winter's coming again. My toes are cold. The Sunbeam's plugged in, and it doesn't get warm enough. We re-read the manual. Got out fat file folder with its warranty, all the warranties, receipts for everything. (Even stuff no longer in use that ought to be thrown out that we don't throw out -- it's a history of how we went from poor, to financially stable, to HEY WE GOT MONEY, to sensible, logical get what we need and stop dealing with malfunctioning appliances!)

JC and I called Sunbeam's Customer Support number, rehearsed and ready to say give us back our money.

We tolerated the long announcement, then a pre-recorded, pleasant voiced, energetic female, with a press 1, for this question, press 2 ,...question 7 was "Blanket won't heat..."

She asked questions. Had we done the heat test? Yes, we'd folded the blanket 3 times, put it on H for high heat, for 7 minutes and there was warmth but not enough to warm my toes. With us answering yes or no (pressing 1 or 2), the lady guided us to a final recommendation: Put the control on high for 30 minutes, then adjust.

It works. (I didn't get a good night's sleep --I was too busy wiggling my toes, peeking down at the floor, squinting at the LED light, adjusting the number, but my toes -- gee, they were more than adequately warmed.)

Yay -- problem solved!

I don't have an egg on my knee from kneeling, just a sinking feeling that I'm getting dumber and slower, while my other self, the confident Dr. Em, is whispering "Haha -- beware -- you've got a new, reliable, Good -housekeeping approved G.E. stove with all the latest newest innovations -- to HATE, CONQUER, SOLVE!"

1 comment:

Carola said...

I think you are both extremely ingenious and resourceful. I would probably have bought a new blanket. I have problems like that with heating pads. Some of them just give out way too soon.