“Plot is a literary convention. Story is a force of nature.”
Teresa Nielsen Hayden

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Cover art incorporates public domain photography sourced from Wikipedia.org
My machine...
...and what i been doing with it
so that's a thing too
Sat 2017-03-25 00:59:05 (single post)

Today will continue into tomorrow. I have excuses. They are not good excuses. Nevertheless, I did finally publish last week's Friday Fictionette, so that's a thing. It's called "Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree." It involves an exorcism, an unusual plant, an alarming rate of rapid exits from a high place, and a depressing amount of journalistic cynicism. Sounds like fun, don't it? (Patron-only links: ebook, audiobook.)

Although, come to think of it, I'll have spent as much time on writing tasks today as yesterday even if I don't sneak in a bit of submission procedurals before I go to bed. So that's a thing.

And my preferred procrastination method this time around was a productive procrastination method. I done patched the holes in the fitted bedsheet! I possibly had an unnecessary amount of fun doing so. Look, my sewing machine is back from service, it's suddenly a joy to use, can you blame me for wanting to use it to make little cat's eyes and stars and stuff on the patches?

No, it is not an embroidery machine. It has no computerized settings. It is an old all-metal workhorse of inferior design--so the staff at the sewing-and-vacuum-cleaner place tell me. It sews. You can vary the length of the stitches and the width of the zig-zag. You can hold down a button and it will sew in reverse. It sews, OK? That's about what it does. It's attached to a table. It only sews flat things. I think if you detach it from the table you can then maybe get it inside pants' legs and stuff? Not sure. It is very heavy and detaching it from the table is a pain. But it sews, and it was not very hard to sew little cat's eyes and stars and stuff on the patches.

Anyway, it is back from service, and it no longer makes birds' nests under the fabric, and the old disintegrating belt has been replaced, and on top of everything I just figured out how I was supposed to be using the knee-pedal all along so that I don't have to put a book under my foot to reach it. Sewing is enjoyable again!

So, here's the thing. I brought it to that place on 28th and Glenwood, Blakeman, I think it's called. I had misgivings when John and I first went in (hoping that we could just buy a replacement belt and put it on at home; alas, no) because the dude talking to me--I'm going to call him "asshole dude"--after Asshole Dude told us how to detach the machine from the table and how late they'd be open that we could bring it in, he then looked over my head at John and said, laughing, "I know what you're going to be doing this afternoon!" The insinuation was that, because the Little Woman wanted to sew, the Manly Man would be roped into lugging the heavy machine around. (Honestly, it went right over my head at first, but in the car on the way home, John was all, "So that guy was a sexist dick. Why are sewing machine shops full of assholes? It's like the sewing machines got modern but the attitudes stayed stuck in the 50s.")

(It's kinda true. The first place we took the machine to in Boulder, Wallace Sewing and Vacuum, something like that, I don't think they're around anymore--this was about ten years ago--the technician told me that although my sewing machine says Fleetwood on it, it's what they tend to refer to as a generic Japanese brand. Only he didn't say "Japanese." He used a WWII-era slur instead. *twitch*)

But I went back to Blakeman with the machine, pointedly lugging it in all by myself (having single-handedly uninstalled it from the table myself too, which was incidentally how I put it back after I got it home again), and this time I wound up talking to this other guy who wasn't an asshole. Did not even blink at hearing that probably John would be using the machine more than me, what with his history of making costumes for LARPs and for Gen Con and all. We enthused about role-playing games and costuming and then roller derby came up, like it tends to do, and he said he was from Cheyenne and watched the bouts there, and I said, "Hey cool, that was your team that came down and played my team in February!" I left happy to report that not all sewing machine shop staff are assholes, and vaguely regretting not bringing our season schedule flyer.

Fast forward two weeks to when I picked it up. I paid the lady behind the counter, and I asked her whether I could ask some questions about the machine. She said yes, just a moment, and I'm afraid it was asshole dude she fetched out from the back office to talk to me. And he stood there, leaning up against the table with my sewing machine on it, telling me that it will now sew the best that it could possibly sew, but that this isn't in fact all that great, because it's an old and inferior model whose zig-zag mechanism is outdated and subpar, and how I really ought to buy one of their new machines. And while he stood there lecturing me about my machine's obsolescence, he's absentmindedly fiddling with just about everything on the machine. All the settings that the service technician had just set during the servicing, that I had just paid for, so that it would sew the best that it could possibly sew, he is fiddling with.

He yanked out the thread before I could make a note to myself how to thread the thing (it had been quite some time since I sewed on it). Then I asked him how one adjusts the tension on this model, and before he answered, he spun the tension dial all the way around without looking to see where it was first. It was like his fingers had to interact with it to identify which piece I was asking about or something. Then he says, "You shouldn't have to adjust it at all. It was set correctly as part of the service." And I'm sort of involuntarily facepalming and almost pulling my hair out because YOU JUST WENT AND UNSET IT THOUGH DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHERE IT WAS BEFORE YOU MESSED WITH IT AND WOULD YOU PLEASE PUT IT BACK. Well, OK, he says, it was "probably" right around here, and he puts it back. Ish. And while he's telling me about how you adjust the knob one way if there's too much thread on top the cloth and the other way if there's too much thread beneath, now he's flipping the foot up and down and popping the foot pressure adjuster thingie in and out and spinning the foot pressure adjuster dial thingie round and round. I don't know that's what they are. I have to ask him, "And what's that thing you're messing with now?" He explains it. Fiddling with it the whole time.

Honestly, I'm starting to feel like a parental figure racing to clean up the last mess that a child has made while the child is blithely going on to make the next mess. I'll be like, "Stop messing with that, how was it set, will you please put it back the way the tech left it, can you pretty please answer my next question with WORDS not TOUCHING" and even while he's dismissing my concern and promising me it'll sew perfectly regardless of whatever he just did to it, he's off and fiddling with something else until finally I just sort of burst out, "Will you please step away from my sewing machine and let me take it home home now?"

At which point he acts all "Oh! I'm sorry! Here you go!" like he only now realizes he was physically blocking my access to the thing. Then he disappears around the back, leaving the lady who charged my card to see me out and hold the door for me while I lug the poor old heavy thing out to the car. She keeps a tactful silence the whole way, no comment on what just occurred. Which could either be because she doesn't want to tell me that she thinks I was unreasonable, or because she can't exactly admit she thinks the whole scene was hilarious, or because she mustn't be heard agreeing with me that Asshole Dude was an asshole. It really could have been anything, whatever she wasn't saying.

And yes, the machine is sewing perfectly now, despite all of Asshole Dude's fiddling. But I really wish Awesome Dude from Cheyenne had been in the shop when I came to pick it up.

"Sewing machine shops! They're full of assholes!" says my husband, provided with this fresh set of evidence. And I'm like, no, there was Awesome Dude from Cheyenne. But I had to admit that, at the critical moment, Awesome Dude was not about. And that's on me. I should have called first to find out if he was in.

There is another sewing machine shop in Boulder, I think, on 30th maybe? I'm kind of afraid to find out what they're like.

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