Part 1 of The Wood Stove Chronicles can be found HERE.
I fussed. I fretted. And I fumed over the few “inconsequential details” I’d just been given—rather last minute—by my new woodstove manufacturer’s salesman.
Yes, of course, before we do the install, you must have an insurance approved, certified heat resistant hearth board for the stove to sit on.
Wait, you don’t supply that?
Okay, fine, you don’t supply that. So, where do I find this?
Beats me. I just work here. And I don’t own a stove.
I am certainly not the first person to be on the receiving end of an exchange where people who have convinced you that you’re about to enter the easiest money-for-goods-trade only to discover that they assumed you could see into their brain and would immediately absorb the biblically thick amount of data that would make that trade a viable one.
I cannot channel such superpowers and, more oft than not, feel hampered when even trying to see into my own brain.
I began calling other stove companies, asking about hearth boards. Most offered some version of my own precious salesman’s response, but a fair number of them suggested I simply head to the nearest DIY hardware store and pick up sixteen handsome cinderblocks so that the stove would fit in with any trucks, trailers, or mobile homes I had scattered about the yard—also held up by attractive bricks of concrete.
I finally found one—the hearth board— and, after a dozen phone calls, I was assured that the requisite piece would arrive definitely, most likely, although it depends on supply chain strikes BEFORE the stove install.
Although with each successive update as to its whereabouts, I was hearing phrases more like:
No one knows where it is, but if you see a trucker, maybe flag him down, hehe.
Likely the railroads are shutting down this week, so don’t hold your breath.
And my favorite:
Pretty sure it’s coming from China, and they’re not working today cuz … Covid.
I looked at all the alternatives—delay the install (next available service slot was near close to Easter), find an alternative fire protectant (phone calls to stone fabricators ensued), or head to the Home Depot and select the prettiest chunks of masonry units for sale (nope, nope, nope).
I scheduled a visit to the nearest marble and granite supplier and took a tour through the slab-stoned graveyard with the owner, who immediately gave off the “I’m bored, I’ve been day drinking, and I’ve run out of porn to watch” vibe. When I finally found a piece I thought would suit and asked the price, the old lecher smiled wickedly and said, “What do you say I give it to you for free if you come on into my office so I can show you a real set of rocks?”
I will spare you the descriptive gesture but, obviously, I was now down to two options, and the cinder blocks were becoming more attractive by the moment.
Shortly thereafter, a new message on my phone revealed that the manufacturer had located my purchase but would only agree to releasing it in a timely manner if a) I paid extra for shipping—which was about the same cost as the object itself, and b) would pick it up where it was currently stored.
I know. I hear you. Clearly this company was being run by Mensa candidates.
Day before stove install, my hearth board arrives. Day of stove install, no stove installers arrive.
I leave a message.
I shout out threats, plan a seizure, cast a spell. I do everything and anything that will shift the winds in my favor, and at some point, realize that with all the energy I’ve put into acquiring this contraption, I may not actually need another source of heat for winter, as I am fully fueled by the blaze of anger.
Hours later, I receive a phone call:
Ah, I can see the effort I spent making sure the salesman put it on the paperwork for the installers was for naught.
“0032,” I say cheerfully.
Five minutes later, a white van pulls up and brings with it my new wood stove and two surly men who refuse to speak to me, as they catch a glimpse of a man in shadow on the porch. They shout to him instead.
“Where’s it goin?”
I am baffled. As I am outside. Standing in front of them both. Having literally just uttered the words, Good morning, and thanks for coming. Let me show you where it’s going.
I do not exist.
Dave, my partner, whom I asked to be present—in case there was an engineering issue not a gender one—steps outside and hooks a thumb my way. “Wherever she tells you to put it is my guess.”
I’d hug him on the spot, but wield my best matronly Nurse Ratched disposition and authoritatively point to a corner of the log cabin where the salesman and I had finally agreed upon.
“Not gonna fit,” one man says to Dave.
“I sent pictures,” I said.
“She sent pictures,” Dave repeats.
The talker shrugs, and the silent one just shakes his head.
“What’s the problem?” Dave and I ask at the same time, but the response is directed at Dave.
“It’s a roof thing,” the talker says glancing up at my ceiling—a ceiling I mapped out from every angle, inside and out, and sent to the salesman. On two separate occasions because he refused to do a site visit.
“I sent pictures,” I said again to two men who surely were wondering why I was being allowed to talk, since they had not seen the big guy next to me nod my way with permission.
Dave held up a finger to the installers. “Give us a sec.” He gestured toward the kitchen, and I followed.
“Do you want your woodsy warm stove, honya? Or do you want to collect further proof that these two guys probably bellyache over the fact that women never have to take DNA tests to prove a baby is or isn’t theirs?
I looked at him. I tried not to laugh, and I also tried not to cry. But he was right. I left the room and went to my tiny office. I fussed. I fretted. And I fumed. But three hours later I beamed because I had a beautiful new wood stove.
I was reminded that sometimes you’re forced to choose your battles, but for now I think the only thing I’ll have to use my battle ax for is for chopping wood.
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