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The Dent in the New Dryer

By October 27, 2020Uncategorized

If you were standing there
After the delivery men left
You might have thought
Only a dent-less dryer would ever make me happy,
Agonizing as I was over a dent, hardly noticeable
On the top left hand corner, right at the crease.
It fit in like it was made that way.
But not for me, the one who discovers–
If it is to be found–
Imperfection in anything newly purchased.
It kills me over and over.

I call my wife, “Can you see this,” I ask.
“this dent?”
“I wouldn’t have, if you hadn’t pointed it out,” she says.

“Well, It’s a dent in a new machine.
And it shouldn’t be there.” I say.
We paid good money for a dentless version. And here’s a dent.
And don’t we regularly end up with
Something imperfect? Damn!
Whatever happened to Quality Control?
“You can hardly see it,” she says.
“I can see it even when I’m not looking at it.”
“Even when I’m in another room
I see it in my mind’s eye, and it seriously bothers me.
I’m going to call and get a new one delivered.”
“Why don’t you sleep on it?”
“I can’t sleep with this dented dryer in the house.”

Next morning I call and set up delivery for a new dentless dryer.
The kids come over on Sunday, enter through the mud room,
Admire the new machine and see nothing of any dents.
While I am out walking the dog, my wife points it out.
“Oh my God,” they say. “We never would have noticed. It fits right in.”
And when I return, they tell me in their own kind way, I’m crazy.

I am–crazy that is.
I drive myself crazy.
I’ll be the first to admit it.

There’s a lesson here I have yet to learn.
One I kinda’ already know, deep down– life’s imperfect, basically messy.
It’s a lesson that keeps on giving, keeps hitting me in the face,
and I keep fighting back.
If I am going to learn it,
I know that this dryer needs to be here in this house.
A new one will only prolong the suffering–
needing it all to be perfect before I can be happy.
Because it never will be so.

This lesson,
If it is to be learned,
Is one more small death
On the way to dying before dying.

Once I was building porch stairs for a friend and mentor and
I made a mistake that would have been hard to correct–
An inch off the width between the stringers from top to bottom;
And the treads and risers already on.
I realized it when I put the railings on.
and they tilted in slightly.
Save for a practiced eye, it could not be noticed.
I pointed it out to him, meaning to fix it.
At my expense, if I must.
“No problem,” he said, “I like when things aren’t perfect.”

That was years ago, I’m still learning that lesson.
The next day I called and cancelled the new improved dryer.
“I’ll live with it,” I thought.

Nine months later I hardly think about it.

One Comment

  • Avatar Jane Thiefels says:

    Bob,
    I loved that poem! I think everyone can relate to it in some sense. I know I can!
    It’s a great metaphor of life.
    It reminds me of the Navahos who are said to deliberately make a mistake when they are weaving a rug.

    You probably will love your dryer even more for being imperfect like we all are.

    Heck with appliances, I need to live with my own dents.

    You are blessed to live with a family who offers a rolling commentary about life!

    Happy day,
    Jane

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