April 17th, 2021


Unresolved Problems

Greg Crosby

By Greg Crosby

Published Jan. 9, 2015

Living in a modern world we come to expect that problems will arise from time to time. It can't be helped, there's even a vulgar expression for it. The expression is, (cleaned up for my family-friendly column) "Stuff Happens." Yes, stuff happens to everybody, rich, poor, young, old, beautiful, ugly, fat, skinny, Jewish, Gentile, well you get the idea. It happens to everybody.

Problems certainly happen in government; matter of fact we come to expect it. That birthday card you sent to Aunt Martha that never got delivered. The water and power company who over-charges you. The trash pickup that didn't. The president who promises "Under The Affordable Care Act you can keep your own doctor and health insurance if you want to." And who also promises "It's highly unlikely that someone with Ebola will reach our shores."

There's a belief by some that in the end it isn't the big problems that get to you, it's the little ones. I don't know if I go along with that. If an eighteen-wheel big rig runs you down flat that would definitely qualify as "a big problem" in anyone's book. A giant tsunami that wipes out your home, business, and family is a big problem that would unquestionably "get to you." On the other hand I know what is meant by "the little problems getting to you." Life's daily aggravations can take their toll and wear you down. I'm worn out already just thinking about it.

I've had my share of those "little problems" that pop up now and again; like getting home from the supermarket and realizing that you didn't get an item that you paid for, or the grease stain on an expensive article of clothing that won't come out, or a broken sprinkler head. Little problems such as these, as irritating as they may be, will come and go. You deal with them, accept them, and eventually they go away.

The real aggravations that will ultimately do you in are not so much the big problems nor are they the little problems. No, the real killers are the problems that never resolve themselves. The problems that never go away are the problems that will get you every time. Lately my wife and I have been experiencing several of these unresolved problems in the home.

Let's start with a horror story I call Invasion of the Beetles. Every spring, for the past five years or so we've been experiencing a beetle infestation in our house. These creepy things are big, black (or dark brown) and emanate, we think, from the washroom, which is adjacent to the kitchen. We have an ongoing contract with a pest control company, which shall remain nameless (Orkin), who come to our rescue by spraying inside and out and laying glue traps in the areas where the bugs have been seen. After a week or two or three the flow of beetles into the house slows and eventually stops altogether.

Year after year as April and May approach and the weather turns warmer, just as the swallows return to Capistrano, the beetles return to Crosby's joint. I've come to, if not fully accept it, begrudgingly tolerate it as just one of nature's little miracles that happen every spring. At least I could take some solace in the knowledge that once gone, we were rid of the things for at least another nine months or so. But this year was different.

Like some 1950's sci-fi thriller, just when we thought it was safe to walk into the washroom again, the disgusting things have come back! It is definitely not spring and yet there they are, boldly walking through the house, mocking us. If they had the capacity to do so, there'd be a smirk on their faces and we'd hear them giggle. The place has been sprayed again and the traps have been laid again. This once seasonal problem has become one of those problems that won't go away.

We've had a full month of unresolved television cable problems. We've had to call our cable provider, which shall remain nameless (Time Warner), on average about every three days or so. The people on the phone are always nice enough, but the problems never seem to get fixed. They've sent three or four (I lose count) technicians out to the house, they've changed our cable boxes on every set more than once, and they've shimmied up the telephone pole to futz with the outside connections.

To make the whole business even more delightful, the cable connections on two of our three TVs are difficult to get to. One is contained high up into a deep closet making it impossible to reach without hauling out a ladder and staining to get to the wall plug behind the set. The other is our primary TV and it is in a large oak armoire that houses a lot of other audio and video equipment and weighs anywhere from seventeen hundred pounds to three and a half tons. Getting behind that thing is about as easy as getting through spring without seeing beetles in the washroom.

As I write this, our cable finally seems to be working, but I don't have a lot of confidence in it. As things stand now, I'm putting the TV cable in the "unresolved problem" column, right after the beetles. If anything changes, I'll let you know.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. He's also a Southern California-based freelance writer.