Joy says that I only play when I can win. To be truthful, I think she got the phrase from her husband, but regardless of its origin, it is a very apt description of me. Not only do I only play when I can win, I only do what I already know. As much as I enjoy learning new things in theory, the idea of trying out new ventures has always held, for me, the same level of dread and terror that most people reserve for going to the dentist. So you can imagine how harrowing an experience house-buying has been for me. Not only is it something new, it is a lot of somethings new, all at once, and coming at me with the force of a firehose. Most days it feels as if the future is a giant open maw, full of impenetrable swirling blackness, and every day I have to fight the urge to halt the whole process and stay where I am, as bad as that situation might be. I would always rather stay in known hell than venture into an unknown heaven.
Which I why I am so thankful that this past Wednesday, I met an angel.
His name is Dan Engel, and his appearance would not at first lead anyone to describe him as among the divine -- a slightly built man clad in faded jeans and kneepads, wielding mysterious tools at whose function I barely dared hazard a guess. Some I recognized -- a screwdriver, a camera, a tape measure. I found him in the bathroom of the house I am considering buying, hands under the shower head, testing water pressure. I was hesitant and more than a little afraid, but he had said on the phone that he wanted me there for the inspection, so I knocked on the doorframe and introduced myself.
The next 3 hours were unlike anything I had ever imagined.
My hesitation disappeared as I began to realize that not only was I not impeding him in his job as I feared, but that he really did want me there. He showed me the difference between #10 and #12 wire, and explained how #10 wire should be connected to the 30 amp switch that controls my hot water heater, demonstrated how I could remove window panes for repair and make a recalcitrant window close, and measured my kitchen to help me decide if there was any way for me to fit in a dishwasher someday. He taught me how to insulate a pipe and tell the difference between a gas furnace and a heat pump, just by looking at the thermostat. He made me believe that I could replace a light switch on my own, as long as I remember to turn of the power first, and inspired me to seek out a solar-powered motion light for the backyard. Educational Inspection Services is the name of his company, but he did far more than educate; he made me think, for the first time in this entire process, that I really could be a homeowner, and that I could accomplish it without completely falling on my face.
So thank you Dan, for so gracefully sharing your wisdom with me. And thank you God, for making an angel in the form of a home inspector.