February 25, 2020

In the Throes of Senility

• By John F. Chisholm •

I worry about senility. It’s closer than I think.

Alas! I have proof.

My compressor died. It’s true. (At least it was a clean, sudden death.)   The tank is sound. The electric motor works flawlessly. There are no problems with the pressure switch either. The piston seal failed. Replacement parts are simply unavailable. I suppose that I should have faced it earlier. It’s 30 years old. Regardless, attempts at either locating or fabricating a new seal were unsuccessful.

Okay. I figured all that out. It took me a while, but I did it.

Second deduction, I needed a new compressor. Truly, I can’t be without one. Please be aware that compressed air is far, far more than just tire inflation although, of course, it accomplishes that, too. It’s essential in any garage. The list of tools which operate under its compulsion is both lengthy and impressive. In turn, the work that they accomplish is critical.

Is this making sense? So far, so good?   As I say, I’m worried.

I swallowed uncomfortably at the cost but eventually purchased an Ingersoll-Rand compressor. It’s nicer than my old one. Significantly, it has steel piston rings so that should I still be around when they fail, they can be easily replaced regardless of the availability of parts from the manufacturer.

Simultaneously, I decided on installing steel air lines in the garage, facilitating the use of the compressed air. I laid out all the pipes, fittings, hoses and couplings already in my possession. Then I made a careful list, writing down what I was missing. (Yeah, I know. At the top of that list was a head, but I was unaware of that at the time.)

I made a special trip into town and purchased all the remaining, necessary components.

Yesterday I worked in the garage all morning, measuring, installing the desiccator, connecting the pipes and affixing them all in place. It’ll be great to have an air-supply system. No doubt about that. But it all came down to one final fitting.

I couldn’t find it anywhere.

I tore the garage apart looking. I checked the drawers, the cabinets and countertops. I searched the house, the truck and barn as well, although I didn’t believe that I’d ever had the missing part in half of those locations. Never mind. I looked anyway.

Please recall that I painstakingly laid out the parts and pieces already in my possession prior to making that trip into town for the remainder. Absolutely, the missing piece was one that I already possessed. I knew that I’d had it. I’d cleaned it, put Teflon tape on the threads and readied it for installation. Never mind. My searches were completely unproductive.

Finally I threw up my hands, locked the garage and made a second trip into town.

The clerk at the plumbing supply house was kind. “What you’d forget?” he asked with a smile.

I lamented, sighed and shook my head before spreading my arms in total disgust. “One, stupid fitting!”

“Which one?”

I put my hands in my coat pockets. I was looking for my original list to prove to the world that I already had the part before coming here. “This one,” I said, pulling the missing piece out of my coat and placing it on the counter. We both stared at it for a moment. I’d actually carried it around with me while searching the entire farm. No wonder I hadn’t found it. My jaw sagged, coming within inches of hitting the fitting.

The clerk was kind. Understanding. He treated me gently, just as he would any nursing home patient. I bought a second fitting anyway, but he wasn’t fooled. I certainly wasn’t. Since you’re reading this, you aren’t either.

More to the point, you see what I mean. I worry about senility.

Unfortunately, I have reason.