Get a bigger Młotek

Młotek (mwahtek) is the Polish word for hammer. My uncles often used this term in doing repairs around the house. On those occasions when they found themselves in a mechanically sticky or arduous situation they would advise: “Get a bigger Młotek”, often to the point of it becoming a running gag or cliché.

The word młotek is spelled with a Dark L (as opposed to a Clear L) or L with stroke:

ł

Kreska ukośna appears only in the letter ł (lslash, barred l, pronounced ew). This letter should not be drawn like the British pound sign! (e. g. £)

It is one of the most difficult and badly drawn characters ever, probably because of its illusional simplicity. – from: http://www.twardoch.com/download/polishhowto/stroke.html

Also see: http://polish.typeit.org/ (in case you need it)

Long ago our old Maytag clothes dryer malfunctioned. The gas pilot light went out and refused to stay lit when I attempted to re-light it. We’d had a repairman in to “fix it” only two months earlier. He replaced no parts but cleaned the pilot tube‘s orifice. Over the course of those two months, I may have done laundry four or five times.

Later I called the same repair service and they sent a different and younger man. He looked at it and tried to re-light the pilot but failed. He said he didn’t have the parts in his truck to fix it. He said he’d check his shop to see if he had a replacement pilot light assembly. I suggested the thermocouple was shot. He said the thermocouple was not sold separately. I told him the Part Number and the name of the supply company that had said previously that they had the part in stock. He didn’t charge for the service call. He said he’d call back but never did. I have since called them twice without his returning my call. The laundry was once again piling up.

I know the Maytag Repairman is a lonely guy but I’ll be damned if I’ll call him on a weekend. (overtime).

Getting angry, I once again got arthritically down on the floor to examine the hard to reach pilot light. I had a flashlight with which I still couldn’t see and damp kitchen matches to add to my growing frustration. The matches kept breaking or failed to light so I lit a tea candle just to light the matches. I could hardly feel, much less see, the pilot light orifice. The burner is covered in a metal shroud that has many sharp edges.

I re-lit the pilot light and held open the valve as per instructions. I held it open for more than the recommended minute but still it went out. I attempted to re-light three more times but to no avail. As I uncomfortably held the pilot light valve open I noted that the flame was weak and huffy. I was 90% sure the pilot light orifice was clogged with some crud or carbon build-up.

Since I could hardly reach the pilot light orifice with my finger, much less a whole hand, I started pounding and shaking and strumming barehanded on the sharp metal shroud and assembly and observed the pilot light flame go blue-orange-blue. Frustrated, I kept doing this to knock something loose until I got a steady blue flame. I let go of the pilot light valve and the pilot light stayed lit. I started the dryer and it came back to life. ‘ray!

By being a do-it-yourselfer I saved somewhere between $150.00 and $900.00.

In the course of doing all this, I remembered helping my uncles go about their chores. As a child, at home, I was forbidden to touch my father’s tools, but my uncles would give me grownup things to do. Once, they had me climb the garage roof when they built a carport. Made me proud. Made me feel grown-up.

Things mechanical sometimes require nothing more than a little extra muscle to fix. I remembered that expression I’d so often heard before:

“Pauly, get a bigger Młotek.”

My uncles, Felix, Joe, Paul, and Walter where all fine and gentle men and I had the privilege of their acquaintance.

We all run into problems, so I shall leave you with this bit of avuncular advice:

When all else fails:

“Get a bigger młotek.”

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About The Twentieth Man

Age 68
This entry was posted in Expository Writing, Humor, Personal History, Plain English and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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