So technically my Giveaway disaster happened yesterday, but because I am weighed down by an annoying cold that has attached itself to the tail end of my whooping cough, I’m going to cut myself some slack and count it for today’s blog. The thing I tried to give away was a folding octagonal Jacuzzi cover, a big beast of an object that we’ve had leaning on our garage wall for 6 months now. It’s a long and at times painful tale of penny pinching, wishful thinking and questionable waste management techniques.
After our fire on October 5, 2002 (see the About section of this blog), we had to rebuild our house. Our old house had a Jacuzzi in the back yard, attached to the side of our office. It wasn’t a great Jacuzzi. It was about 30 years old and was never really fully functional, but we’d got some great use out of it. When I was pregnant I’d soaked my exhausted body in it, and for the last few years Theo and his friends had a lot of fun splashing about in it. And, it was in that Jacuzzi that Theo first overcame his fear of putting his head under the water. After the fire, all the electrical wiring of the house was completely fried, so knowing that the Jacuzzi probably wouldn’t work, we decided to expand the office into the space the Jacuzzi had occupied. Now we have a larger house, which is great, but I immediately missed the Jacuzzi and decided I wanted to try to replace it. In the early summer last year, I went on line looking for an inexpensive used one, since we’d spent a lot on some additions to the house that weren’t covered by our insurance. Miraculously, I found a used one in Pasadena, only 15 minutes away for $300. It was in great shape and would fit perfectly in our back yard. What a great deal! My husband, David, was skeptical and concerned that we’d end up throwing a lot more money at a used Jacuzzi to get it to work. I reassured him it would be fine. This one seemed to work perfectly. The owner was honest and helpful, and we agreed I would buy it if we could get it moved. So, I called several moving companies and found that no one wants to move hot tubs. Finally I found a company that specialized in moving spas. They would move it for $350. We set up a time and then a hefty man and his heft son heaved the hot tub onto a trailer and somehow managed to deftly maneuver it through our narrow side gate and into a perfect spot in our back yard. So, it had cost us $650 – still a pretty good deal. I was feeling pleased with myself. I filled it with water and plugged it in, the way the previous owner had shown me. It came on for a few seconds and then the engine died. Crap.
Not wanting to tell David right away, I called up a Jacuzzi servicing company (I had forgotten who our old company had been) and they said that they could come and look at it for $60 and diagnose it. So, I made an appointment and a service rep showed up, examined the inner workings and said we needed a new pump, which would be about $500, including labor. My heart sank. I told him I’d think about it and get back to him and paid him the $60. Kaching – $710. Then I remembered the spa servicing company we’d used before and asked them if they could look at it and give me a second opinion. They sent a technician, who checked it carefully, told me the pump was fine but looked at the burnt wiring and said that the Jacuzzi had failed because we didn’t have enough power running to the Jacuzzi. He said he could rework our electrical box and run more power straight from the house to the Jacuzzi. He rigged up a temporary fix to demonstrate to us that it would work – and it did. He could do it for $600. He wasn’t a licensed electrician though, so that made me nervous. And, I didn’t relish telling David because at – kaching – $1310, this Jacuzzi was no longer a bargain and David could justly say, “I told you so.” And nobody likes hearing that.
David and I discussed the issue and decided that, having invested this much money we might as well get the Jacuzzi working. But, we didn’t want an unlicensed electrician messing around with our house’s wiring. We’d just had a fire after all. So, we hired someone recommended by our neighbor and he agreed to do the job for $800. Kaching – $1510. He rigged up all the wires and cords carefully so that they are barely visible in the bushes, and at the end of the day, flipped a switch and, hurray, we had a Jacuzzi that worked – mostly. Something one of the technicians had done had stopped the jets working. But it filtered and heated the water, which was good enough for me. So, finally, we were able to go in the Jacuzzi. By now, it was the end of summer, but it was still very satisfying to be able to soak in the tub. But then we realized we didn’t have a cover for it. If we didn’t cover it, it would become fill up with leaves and become very dirty. So, I went online again looking for an inexpensive cover. David sighed.
I found a large rectangular one that someone was giving away not too far from our house and an octagonal one that was the perfect size, but cost $50 and much further away, near the beach. I contacted the family with the freebie and David contacted the one with the $50 cover. David didn’t hear back from his seller so we made an appointment to pick up the free cover, drove over there and strapped the massive object onto the top of David’s car and drove very slowly home. On our way home, David received a message from the owner of the octagonal cover saying it was available and we could pick it up today. So, when we got the massive rectangular one home, he headed off to the beach to pick up the cover that should actually fit our Jacuzzi, while I tried to find somewhere to store the rectangular one. A couple of hours later, David returned with the other cover, looking tired but explaining it had gone pretty well and the people had been nice enough to load it into the car for him. Kaching – $1560. But when we tried to get it out, we realized why they’d done that. It was made of metal and weighed over 100 lbs and there is no way we’d be able to get it onto the top of our Jacuzzi. It was a Jacuzzi cover all right, but one made for hot tubs that are built into the ground, not standing ones like ours. Arggh!
So, we closed up the Jacuzzi with the large, lightweight, rectangular cover and leant the heavy metal cover against the garage wall, not knowing what we’d do with it. Months passed. Then a few weeks ago, I decided to make the cover a part of my Giveaway. I didn’t think anyone would want to buy it, but surely someone would take it for free, so I posted it on Freecycle.com, which I’ve used successfully in the past to give away large but useful items. Surprisingly (or maybe not), no one responded to my post. So, I decided to call the City’s Bulky Items Pick-up service and spoke with a nice City rep who assured me that if I left the cover out in front of our house, it would be picked up this week. I was delighted, imagining that the City would take it to some sort of salvage dump where, people who need stuff visit and take away what they need. Apparently that’s not what happens.
Yesterday around lunchtime, I heard the “beep beep” of a trash truck backing up to our curb and then a loud thump, which could only be the Jacuzzi cover being lifted and dumped into the truck. When I rushed outside to witness the pick up, I saw that the cover was halfway inside the sharp teeth of some sort of grinding machine in the back of the truck. When I asked the driver if these bulky items get recycled, he said “Oh yes, they get sorted at a facility and the materials get recycled.” He then asked, “Do you want to see it getting crushed?” I was shocked, but at this point, I realized there was no going back really. I said, “Ok,” and watched in despair and disbelief as the teeth of the crusher ripped and squished the aluminum Jacuzzi cover until it was nothing but shreds of metal and cloth, and, oddly, a lot of powder. “There are 12 couches in there already,” he proudly announced. At that point, there was nothing to except say thank you and go back in the house. I had naively thought that the cover would be reused somehow. But now I can only hope that whatever materials it was made out of might somehow be reworked into something useful. (What though?) Only then will it be saved from being a Throwaway, and regain the status of Giveaway. In the meantime, it’s nearly summer again and I will make sure I spend as much time as is humanly possible relaxing in our very expensive, bargain Jacuzzi.