Little irritations breed big satisfactions. Not long ago I noticed that the hinges of the bathroom door squeaked when the door opened or closed. This was not a problem during the day. In the middle of the night, I always forgot about the squeak and when I heard it, I was certain it would awaken everyone in the house. Today I sprayed some WD40 on the hinges and the squeaking is gone.
The kids’ backpacks and jackets were scattered all over the living room, mainly because there was no good place to put them. Kelly found some hooks and I installed them and now the jackets and backpacks can be hung up out of the way. Can be. That doesn’t mean will be, but it was satisfying to know there was a solution in place.
Given how little I watch TV, it irritates me to see cables dangling from behind the screens. On a TV I’d mounted in the family room downstairs, the cable box hung down from behind the TV like a vine because there was no good place to put it. It finally irritated me enough. I duct-taped it to the back of the TV. The next day, the box was dangling again. This time, I duct-taped it to the frame of the mount itself, and did it in such a way that I’m certain it won’t come down any time soon. Now, when I go into the family room, I’m satisfied that no cables are dangling. I just pretend not know know what the jumble of cables and duct tape behind the TV screen looks like.
The flapper in the powder room was worn. In the middle of the night, I’d heard the water turn on and fill the bowl back to level after enough had drained through the flapper. Everything sounds louder in the middle of the night. I went to the hardware store and picked up a replacement flapper and replaced it, and I’m no longer awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of running water.
I was thinking about these little irritations and the big satisfactions I get from them because of something that happened the other day. Kelly and I tend to be modest gift-givers to each other for birthdays and holidays. We take the family on two vacations each year and that seems to be gift enough for both of us. Occasionally, however, there will be something too good to pass up. After some careful research (read: a quick Google search), I announced to Kelly that I’d bought us a Christmas present.
Kelly looked at me with trepidation in her eyes. “What is it?” she said.
“A replacement silverware basket for the dishwasher,” I told her.
“Oh, that is a good present,” she said, both relieved and, I assume, mildly satisfied. The GE dishwasher that came with the new house had a silverware basket that had numerous holes in the bottom. Knives and forks were alway slipping through and either falling into the bottom of the dishwasher, or getting caught so that it made it difficult to pull out or push in the lower tray.
The tray should arrive in the next couple of days and it will be satisfying to have a silverware tray through which no silverware can slip.
The satisfaction I get from correcting these small irritations is out of all proportion to the irritation itself. I think it is because so many things in the world are so difficult to fix, that I take inordinate pleasure at fixing something, no matter how small. I can’t prevent all the bathroom doors in the world from squeaking, but I can prevent my bathroom door from doing so. Now, when I find myself with a thorny problem to solve the solution of which eludes me, I take stroll around the house, looking for little things that irritate me in the hope of finding something that I can fix.