Saturday, December 22, 2012

Marriage 501, Lecture 652: The right way or my way


You guys know that SH and I vary on our approach to problem solving. He is an optimizer and I am a satisficer. That is, I define in advance what I want and when I find the item that meets the criteria, I stop looking.

SH looks at every single option and then picks what he thinks is the best. Which is an agonizing process to witness. Have you ever tried to buy bacon or milk with an optimizer? It is torture.

This mindset extends to other types of problems. For example, you know the famous SH traffic jam story. We have to get to the airport to catch a plane and there is a traffic jam to get onto the freeway. Rather than seek an alternative route, as I am suggesting, because the immediate problem to be solved here is to get to the airport on time (although this might have been a case where SH was going to visit his parents, which means I don't care if he catches the plane or not, so my stress is reduced from when I, too, will be on the plane), SH wants to know why, why, WHY? is there a traffic jam on a Saturday morning.

I point out that it does not matter why there is a traffic jam. All that matters is getting to the airport on time. So let's take an alternative route.

No! Why is there a traffic jam? Why?

Now apply this way of thinking to a common household problem. As usual, there is a deadline. As usual, there are alternative routes to solving the problem. As usual, SH takes the hard way.

The situation is this: yesterday, when I was taking our new brick-red microflannel sheets off the bed so I could wash them and hopefully remove some of the white cat hair and gray chest hair that the sheets attract like moths to a flame, SH decided it was time to wash the pillow covers. Not the pillowcases, but the extra pillowcase-type thing you have on the pillow as an additional layer between your nighttime drool and your probably unwashable or very difficult to wash pillow.

In my house, we always just used an old pillowcase as the pillow cover, but a few years ago, SH found some fancy pillow covers that zip shut. Admittedly, they are easier to use than old pillowcases because it's easier to put the regular pillowcase on if you are not negotiating a second pillowcase.

However. The problem with zippers is that they will break.

My solution to the broken zippered pillow cover was to baste the cover onto the pillow. I wash the covers only two or three times a year, so it's not a big deal to cut the stitching, then re-sew it after laundering.

However. SH did not approve of that solution.

It was 2:50 p.m. We had to leave the house at 4:10 p.m. to get to the church Christmas concert on time (and to stop at the library on the way so I could return some overdue books). (The concert was nice, even though they sang a Marty Haugen song - SH leaned over and whispered, "This one is not as bad as his music usually is." And the post-concert reception was excellent, as usual. I was doubtful about the ham-wrapped pickle spears secured with sour cream and a toothpick, but then I tried one and y'all, let me tell, those Lutherans know how to make snacks. I don't usually like ham, but I like it wrapped around a dill pickle.)

We have been late for this concert every year since I moved here and just once, I want to be on time. SH had not taken a shower yet.

SH decided that this was the perfect time to try to repair the zipper. The breakage, by the way, was that the little base that secures the two tracks had broken off and the zipper pull had come off, leaving the two tracks separate.

I pointed out (some might say I nagged) that perhaps now was not the best time to attempt to repair a zipper and that we already had a solution.

SH replied, through gritted teeth, that my way was wrong and he wanted to do it the right way.

I continued to read my book, watching SH out of the corner of my eye. He swore repeatedly as I, every five minutes, reminded him that a solution to our problem already existed and wasn't it time for him to get into the shower?

He loves when I nag him. Loves it! It means I am paying attention to him.

Finally, after 25 minutes, he gave up. I pointed out that it takes me three minutes to baste the pillow and that he had just used up eight times' worth of basting, which is about three to four years' worth of pillow cover washing.

He glared at me, then sighed, puzzled, in his "I'm an engineer and I'm used to being able to solve problems" voice. "I don't know how seamstresses do it."

My jaw dropped. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, how does someone who is sewing something do this? It's so hard!"

I shook my head. I had understood him. "You think this is how someone who sews has to set up a zipper?"

"Yes."

"No, no, no! This is not how a zipper arrives when you buy it. I have never been able to repair a zipper once it's broken like that! It comes already assembled. That's why I kept telling you not to bother!"

Bless his heart.

2 comments:

Gaylin said...

You can let SH know that repairing a zipper really only works if you have decent sewing machine with zipper foot and a lot of patience.

Class factotum said...

Gaylin - I do have the machine and the zipper foot, but how do you re-thread the tracks? I would say forget it and just buy a new zipper!