The Pandemic, I Can’t Get No…

The pandemic is driving me nuts. My wife and I are in that elderly category that Covid is rapidly killing off (great for the federal government and its social security budget, not so much for us). Still more or less isolating, we haven’t been to a restaurant, movie, museum, shopping or any of the other things we used to do for entertainment for a year-and-a-half. We still drive our cars mainly to charge the batteries. We’ve been vaccinated, but just as with a flu vaccine, that’s no guarantee we won’t get the virus anyhow, so we still need to be careful…wearing that mask (I feel like the Lone Ranger), washing those hands. The Pandemic

Now, just as there is some small promise of things getting better, returning to a sort of science fiction form of normal, we’ve discovered that there are major problems with something called the “distribution chain”. You’ve all heard of the Rolling Stones, and their song “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” Well, apparently nowadays I Can’t Get No…toilet paper (here we go again), chicken wings, Christmas presents, appliances, water heaters, HVAC systems, and of all things, PVC pipe? The list apparently goes on and on. The Pandemic

(I must warn you, I exaggerate for effect a lot in this blog post, but what the hell? The world’s gone insane, our worthless news media lies and makes stuff up to give the 24/7 news spin doctors something to babble about, and I might as well join in the fun). The Pandemic

It began a year ago, when my wife decided to remodel the kitchen in our small condo. Sounds reasonable, right? When it came time to order the appliances, the contractor came back to us with very few options. Apparently, only the high end stoves, refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves and sink/disposal systems were still available. This was because of closed factories overseas and distribution problems due to Covid. God help us, we also needed a new washer/dryer. The Pandemic

So, I ended up spending twice as much for things I didn’t want. You know, like a refrigerator that dispenses all kinds of useful things (water, ice, slushies, ice cream, wine, vodka, chocolate syrup, shampoo, smoothies, beer on tap, motor oil) and talks to you. Unfortunately, since nothing is made in America anymore, it only speaks Chinese, so I’m totally lost. The good news, it can communicate just fine with the stove, dishwasher and washer/dryer, all which also are also fluent only in Chinese. The Pandemic

This high end refrigerator includes a side-by-side refrigerator and freezer, and a super effective cooling unit. Unfortunately, I can’t speak Chinese, so I am unable to tell it what temperature to set said frig and freezer. As a result, anything that we store on the refrigerator shelves nearest the freezer side also freezes, and in the case of sodas for example, also explodes. How do you say “stop exploding my Pepsis” in Chinese? I also broke a tooth trying to drink/chew my frozen milk yesterday morning. The Pandemic

The dishwasher is awesome. It has about fifty different settings. You can wash dirty, extra dirty, filthy, grungy and mold-encrusted plates. There’s a gentle setting for paper plates and sporks for those fast-food fans, and even separate settings for washing your dog, your cat or your pet snake. Be warned, though, our cat was not a happy camper when I removed her after her wash, but maybe it was because of the blow dry cycle. The best part about the dish washer is that, like the advertisement said, it is so quiet and vibrates so little that you can take a nap on top of it and it won’t keep you awake. I tried it once, but I don’t recommend it. The granite counter top was harder than hell. The Pandemic

Our new stove has as many settings, but it’s dangerous. It is electric and has super-duper heating elements. I’ve burned pretty much everything I’ve tried to cook on it. You shouldn’t burn soup with a setting of “1”. I also have to be very careful talking in the kitchen, because I’m pretty sure the oven has a setting for “cremate”, and I don’t want to accidentally say something that sounds like the Chinese word for “cremate” in front of the oven. If I am fortunate to ever find a chicken to buy again, that wouldn’t be good if I’m baking it in that oven. Or, God forbid, the turkey at Thanksgiving. The Pandemic

Then, there’s the washer/dryer. That thing has over a hundred settings, so you can wash and dry everything from your underwear to your mattress. Again, I don’t speak Chinese, but I think there’s even a setting for washing and drying your car. The international symbol on the machine shows a small sedan, so it might be limited to Smart Cars and Mini-Coopers. There’s also an international symbol/picture of a dog as one of the settings. But, if I were Fido, I’d prefer the dishwasher. Not so much bouncing, and it’s so quiet you can actually take a nap, remember? The Pandemic

Through the grace of God, and several bank loans, we were finally able to acquire the appliances we needed to finish the kitchen. That was a year ago, and we thought sure it would be better today. WE WERE WRONG! This brings us to the water heater. Our water heater is over fifteen-years-old, and in a past life we had the bottom rust out of one of those suckers that made a horrible mess. So, I decided to replace the one in our condo to avoid a similar disaster. Now, I’m an old man, and I wish I could report that I’ve never made a bad decision in my life. But, that would be a lie. I’ve probably made more bad decisions than there are setting on our new washer/dryer, and this was another one. The Pandemic

I contacted a plumber, with great reviews online, and asked for a quote to replace our water heater. I was told that it was difficult to find water heaters, especially the lowboys that one generally installs in a condo. Then, he gave us a price for a brand new 40-gallon water heater made in America. It was almost twice what it had cost us to replace an electric water heater in our single family home a couple of years ago, before we moved to the condo. (No inflation, Mr. President? We need government officials that can at least count to ten. Ya’ got that many fingers.) The Pandemic

Anyhow, I bit the bullet and put a down payment on the project. The plumber came a couple weeks later, did the installation, and went on his merry way. My wife and I noticed that the water during our showers came out lukewarm at best, even with the hot water faucet all the way open. Being a curious old man, I read the label on the new water heater. The label was positioned in the closet in such a manner that I had to bend like a pretzel and take a photo of it with my phone to read it. It read “manufacture date 2017” and “Assembled in Mexico.” The Pandemic

I telephoned the plumber to communicate my displeasure. He used words like “supply chain problems” and “I don’t know how this slipped by us”. I used words that I won’t repeat here, because…well, never mind. Suffice it to say that you can learn a lot of descriptive words in 70 years, and none of these were in Chinese. Anyhow, it took the plumber two weeks to find a brand new forty-gallon water heater made in America, but he finally found one and made the replacement. The Pandemic

Apparently, there are a number of issues here. First, there are very few things made in America anymore. Second, the few factories that are still in the U.S. and many of those overseas have been closed down much of the time during the pandemic. And third, there aren’t enough tractor-trailers and drivers to move the goods to where they need to be for sale. The Pandemic

The plumber that came to our condo to replace the 2017 water heater with the 2021 water heater told us that they can’t even find PVC pipe. Can you imagine that? Freaking PVC pipe is used in construction of all homes, office buildings, probably even the space ship that that guy from Amazon is flying around in. I wonder if he had trouble finding PVC pipe for his project? I think hearing that about PVC pipe is the scariest thing I’ve ever heard, at least until they tell me we can’t get any more hamburgers or pizza. That’s when I really lose it. The Pandemic

Finally, our HVAC system is dying. We seem to be having a run of bad luck at the wrong time. So, we contacted an HVAC company and asked for a quote for a replacement. Our system is fifteen years old, and you have to replace both inside and outside units (of course). It has something to do with the EPA and the fact that whatever type of Freon or other chemical was used fifteen years ago has now been shown to cause cows to fart, which is harmful to the environment. It is illegal to manufacture anymore of the gas (even in China, apparently), there is only a small amount available, and God forbid your fifteen-year-old HVAC system needs a refill. It would apparently cost more than your house. The Pandemic

The nice HVAC man came to our condo to look at what we currently have and provide an estimate. His estimate turned out to be almost twice what it cost us to replace a similar system in a previous house a couple of years ago. The man told us that the units, both air handler and heat pump, were made in America. I prefer things that are made in America because 1) it makes more jobs for Americans and 2) I have found over the years that the quality of the product is better. However, when I read through the estimate carefully, I discovered the fine print that stated the outside heat pump unit would actually be made in Mexico. The Pandemic

Apparently, during Covid, this particular company started having their heat pumps made in Mexico and slapping the same label on them as the ones made in America. After further discussion and demanding a product made in America, the salesman admitted that there were a couple of models he could get that were still made in the U.S. So, our contract lists a make and model manufactured in the U.S., and when they come in a few weeks for the installation I can assure you I be a’reading the labeling on the unit before they put it in place. I guess I should be glad to get a heat pump at all, but there are limits to what I will tolerate. The Pandemic

So, we have only high end appliances, made in China, water heaters and HVAC units made in Mexico, and virtually everything sold by Walmart and most things sold by Amazon made in China. There’s more upcoming battles for toilet paper, Christmas presents, chicken, and PVC pipe…freakin’ PVC pipe? You know, the stuff that carries water in, and waste out of your house. I keep thinking about that old Mel Gibson movie, Mad Max, in an apocalyptic world where gangs of marauders fought for humanity’s leftovers. They should do a sequel, where everyone is killing each other for PVC pipe? The Pandemic

Much of this has to do with our failing federal government, who apparently chased pretty much all manufacturing overseas. Apparently this has something to do with taxes, or the standard government bribes and kick-backs, or who the hell knows why. That’s for our esteemed fourth estate (that’s the news media) and Congress to figure out, and I won’t hold my breath. Anyhow, there’s no such thing as “Made in America” anymore. The Pandemic 

Our latest poor excuse for a president (not to be confused with the last several poor excuses for presidents, although at 78, he is apparently confused a lot) recently proposed that America should send massive amounts of Covid vaccine to countries overseas. In his words, the purpose was so they can send their people back to work manufacturing goods desperately needed in the U.S. Perhaps this should give us a clue as to the problem. This is same federal government that keeps telling us there’s no inflation, just much higher prices on things you can’t get anyhow. Examples include extravagant things that only the rich and famous would buy. You know, like a refrigerator, or water heater, or heat pump, or PVC pipe, or dare I say…toilet paper? The Pandemic

According to recent reports and video, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of foreign freighters anchored off of all of the major U.S. ports, just sitting there jam-packed full of goods manufactured abroad. Apparently, we don’t have enough dock workers to unload the goods, or a sufficient number of truckers or trucks to transport these foreign goods into the country. Perhaps, one obvious solution might be to manufacture something at home in the U.S., so we’re not dependent on China, Mexico, etc. for everything. The Pandemic

Perhaps, an alternative solution would be for some enterprising young entrepreneur to start up a boat rental business at each U.S. port, and rent boats to U.S. citizens so they could float from freighter to freighter, shopping for things like…say PVC pipe, toilet paper, water heaters, chicken wings…you get the idea. The Pandemic

Perhaps that same young entrepreneur will become a multi-millionaire, run for Congress and become president someday. Maybe he, or she, will actually give a crap about the American people that they serve, and do something to bring manufacturing back to America. And, just maybe by then, this damn pandemic will be over. Meanwhile, I’m going to stay home, isolate, and learn Chinese, so that I can communicate with our new kitchen. The Pandemic

I realize that this Covid-19 pandemic has killed somewhere on the order of 730,000 Americans to date, more than WWII, and my heart goes out to those who have lost friends and loved ones in the past couple of years. Needless to say, that’s infinitely more important than not being able to replace a water heater, or buy chicken wings. I’m just trying my best to laugh in the face of adversity, as a way of staying sane. God Bless You All, and God Bless America!

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