I knocked on the door, and the woman answered.
“I’m the can-opener repairman,” I said. “You called?”
“I’m glad you came,” she said. “I’ve got to get this casserole in the oven. The recipe calls for a can of mushroom soup.”
I gave her my can-opener repairman card. “Barry Coulter,” she said. “That name sounds familiar. Have we met before? Or is there something else you do, that I may have heard of you?”
“I am a can-opener repairman, Ma’am,” I said. “That’s what I do. Now show me to the can-opener.”
We went into the kitchen, and she showed me the can-opener. “So what seems to be the problem?” I said.
“Well … it doesn’t open cans anymore — obviously. I was just going to throw it out and get a new one, but I was shocked at how expensive a new one is! Then I saw your ad.”
“You did the right thing,” I said. “In this wintry economic climate, we have to make things last longer. All this planned obsolesence is no-o-o-o good!”
I examined the can opener. “What you got here,” I said, “is some feeder wheel gear slippage. I”ll dopple the bearing tighter to the axle shaft, refocus your Manley sprocket, a quick sharpen of the cutting wheel and you’ll be good to go.”
I hefted my box of specialized tools up onto the kitchen counter and set to work.
“To tell you the truth,” she said, “I didn’t know there was such a thing as a can-opener repairman.”
I took off my glasses and screwed the loupe eyepiece into my orbital socket. “It’s a growing industry. It’s part of that whole trades boom — you know, how we have too many sociologists, fine artists, web designers, journalists — but not enough plumbers, heavy equipment mechanics or pipeline welders? They’re really promoting trades, and getting more people into trades. I though it was about time I took up a trade.”
“And you …”
“I chose can-opener repair. I like working with my hands. I tend to get hurt when I try welding. I’m an inveterate finger-licker, so plumbing’s not for me. And crawling under heavy equipment, getting all covered with oil? Forget it!”
“Where does one go to learn can-opener repair?”
“One goes to college. Where else?”
“Is it a long course? A difficult course?”
“It’s all right,” I said. “Couple more night classes and I can get my electric can-opener certification.”
“It seems surprising to me, that you can make a living repairing can-openers. Is there something else you do? Do you do some moonlighting on the side?”
“Hey,” I said. “I may wear several job-hats, but I’m no Econo-bot, regardless of what people say.”
“Pardon me, what does that mean?”
I pointed at the window. “Hey, look at that! Oh, now it’s gone!”
“What was it?”
I stood away from the counter, brandishing the can opener. “All righty! Where’s that soup!”
The newly repaired can-opener worked like a dream. I worked out my invoice and presented her with the bill.
“Seventy-five dollars! Are you serious!”
“Minimum one-hour labour,” I said.
We shouted back and forth, for a bit, until she finally broke down and wrote me a cheque, just to get me out of the house.
“That’s my only call of the day,” I said to myself as I walked to the van. “Guess I’ll go see how my order of fridge magnet ads is coming along.”
For all your can-opener repair needs call (Editor’s Note: Phone number deleted for lack of space)