Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Shopping With HAL 9000

Believe it or not, your microwave oven has a fuse. And just like any other fuse on any other electrical device, these fuses can burn out. Now, why they burn out like the AE-35 Unit did is the matter for serious debate. Okay, it’s not a matter for serious debate because we’re talking about a microwave not a spaceship. But at any rate the AE-35 Unit fuse in my microwave popped and I had to find a replacement fuse. Until I did I drink not only leftover coffee but cold leftover coffee. That idea didn’t appeal to me much. I had to go shopping.

The first thing to be done was finding the fuse. Of course, it might not be the fuse at all but fuses are the cheapest repair that a man can make on a microwave and it doesn’t require any special training or any special tools. Or so I thought. I get out the screwdriver set and behold! Even though I have a screwdriver set with eleventy billion types of driver attachments inside not one of those tips fit the screw heads on the back of a microwave.

What the actual fuck?

It seems the screw heads have to have a “security tip” screwdriver to get them to turn. The head of the screw has a monolith inside, tiny yet powerful enough to prevent the entrance of a screwdriver tip. Sort of a screwdriver chastity belt monolith. There will no penetration for the duration.

Oh, I forgot to mention something here; I went online and looked for the AE-35 Unit fuse and no matter what I searched for or how I searched for it, all I could find was the fuse holder. That told me that, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus but I had no idea what species it might be. Cover me, I’m going in!

No, you’re not, you need the security tip screw driver to get inside and that means two trips into town!

Trip One:  I had zero idea as to how to describe the Chasity Belt Monolith Screw Head to anyone. So I go into one of those warehouse hardware stores where there’s an even fifty-fifty shot of (a) finding an employee to begin with, and (b) finding an employee who knew what he or she was talking about. I went into this same store carrying a pressure switch for a well pump and the barely legal young female who spoke to me was hired for her looks, clearly, for she had no idea that water came out of the ground. You mean you drink water than just came up out of the ground? Really! That’s gross! I would never do that! But instead I found a guy who not only knew what I was talking about, he also knew what to call it. It’s a Security Screw. That sounds all the world about sleeping with someone that works for the IRS, actually. But I got the security screw adapted tip and opened up my microwave.

Cue Space Odyssey theme music.

You know, I was surprised to discover the fuse pops right out. There wasn’t any tiny strands of barbwire around it, no Chihuahuas with spiked collars standing guard and not the first hint of a red eyed disembodied voice saying, “I’m sorry Dave but I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.” . But the success in this mission was followed by….


I’m trying to read the tiny writing on the fuse with a magnifying glass when Tanya jumps up to be petted. Even the worse dog I have ever shared space with needs to be loved so I take some time to let her know that even if I do want to sell her to the nearest Chinese restaurant about three times a week, I still love her. I put the magnifying glass and the fuse on the coffee table and after a while, let the dogs out. I also forget that I something made of glass where Tanya could get to it.

The next morning I find the magnifying glass on the dog blanket. The handle is dented. The fuse… it’s not to be found which means Tanya has eaten it.

It’s too late to induce vomiting so I as the Bible says, “This too shall pass” and I look forward to trying to find which pile of poo is hers, and if it has the fuse inside. Right as despair hits I think about moving the sofa to look under there, and lo! There is it! But this leads to…

Trip Two: The most damning of all human habits is thinking that just because something worked the first time that means the second time it should also work. I went back to the Hardware Warehouse, holding my fuse out in front of me like Diogenes, and discovered that there was a very young woman with what looked like half a Volkswagen was cut into pieces and tossed into her face at random points. Seriously, she looked like she had gone bobbing for apples and had gotten razor blades instead. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you, but you just don’t think to see it at a hardware store.

“I need a new fuse for my microwave” I told her.
“Duh!” she replied, “Microwaves don’t have fuses.”
“So where did this one come from?” I asked, hold my AE-35 Unit fuse out to her.
“Does that go to the little light thingy inside or something?” Metal Mouth replied.
So away we go. We go to see Ray, who is the end all and be all of knowledge. Ray looks at the fuse in the same manner someone might hold one of those blue jellyfish in Australia that can kill in a matter of minutes.
“That came out of a microwave?” Ray is fascinated. “Wow!”  Okay, Ray looks like your average South Georgia redneck. I’m beginning to wonder here. I pass a chimp on my way out. He's going in with the leg bone of a pig. I run. 

Exit, Stage Left.

Trip Two, Act Two, the scene where the Wanderer enters a strange place.

At the other Warehouse Hardware Store in town, there is a guy in a store uniform talking to a woman. She turns and sees me and, cue trumpets, waves me forward. Ready for this? She not only knows WHAT the fuse is, she knows WHERE they are kept and then leads me to the Promised Land.

Less than five minutes and five bucks later….I can haz fuse!

The bad news is that once the new fuse was in place the clock tell me it’s this time:

I half expected it to start singing, 'Daisy" 
Which at the end of the day, may mean it is time to buy a new microwave!

Take Care,


  1. Ha ha ha, applause, author, author.
    Welcome to the wonderful world of trying to repair any electronical dohicky.
    I was sucked into repairing the wipers on this girl’s mother’s ’58 Chevy, and had to go buy a butterfly tip screwdriver. I bought both sizes they had, and have not used them again to this day.

    1. My hope is that I can find someone whose microwave just died and needs to get into it.