Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rage against the machine

Flashback, a year or two ago. It was an seemingly fine afternoon, and I had just come home. The lift in the backyard waited for me with quiet spite. The day before, my mother said it sounded a little off... I dismissed it as 'probably nothing'...

I stuck the key in, and held the button to rise.. up, up... hm.. it REALLY sounded off. And getting slower. And slower. The top reach closer, bit by bit, and I muttered at the lift to 'come on.. just a little farther', as it inched up, ever slower.

Then, two inches form the top, is just stopped. "Son of a...." I sat, and debated my situation. If the door could open here, I could have 'jumped' the remaining distance easily, but the door could not open.. it didn't have clearance physically, nor did safety measures allow it to open if not at the top.

I pulled out my cell, and dialed my mum, who lives in a little suite on the lower floor. "Hey, can ya do me a quick favor?" We soon found out that the lift was indeed plugged in, but wasn't getting power. No breaker she could find would solve this.

I hit the up button again. Up half an inch. Then I lost control. I had entered the altitude where the lift decides "Ok, I see where you're going, I'll take you the last couple inches." Except it couldn't. It didn't have the juice. That didn't stop it form trying. Again, and again, every second or so, bouncing me ever so slightly. Lovely.

"Maybe we should call the fire department.." Ridiculous, mum! Get me the number for the lift guy. Well, the lift guy wasn't picking up. I left a message. "I'll give him some time to get back to me." (He was out of town)

Finally I relented and called the fire department. They came around, even an off duty one who lived nearby and saw his buddies. It ended up that I was hauled out and stuck on a deck chair while my chair was hauled out separately. Mildly embarrassing, but life goes on.

As it turned out, the power was out due to a previously unknown breaker located apart form the main breaker box. The lift had been trying to milk its battery, and without more power coming in, it's only managed to literally jerk me around. When not in use, the lift stores power to use above and beyond what the outlet gives.

Back to the near present. Last night, 9:30pm, after getting home from the weekly Optimist meeting... The lift had been sounding tired the last few days, but the power was flowing.. I must have been imaging it.... or not.

A quarter the way up, it was DEFINITELY going slow. By half way up, it had stopped. But the power was flowing...! I gave the battery a few minuted to soak up a little juice. And got up another 2 inches. I let it soak for one minute. And got up 2 inches more. 5 minutes? Still 2 inches. It seemed the battery had lost it's ability to store more than a trickle. (as batteries will do in time) I was determined to inch my way up.. and I was going pretty good.. then I remembered that if I couldn't make a 'large' leap at the end, I'd get trapped like before. Unable to convince it to give me more than a couple inches at a time, I finally gave up.

I rang up my buddy adam. "Hey, feel like some exercise?" "huh?"

I hit the down button, and slid softly back down, negating my half hour of inching up. Adam and my wife Michelle hauled my butt, chair and all up the front steps. And now I was stranded upstairs until I could get the lift guy..

thankfully we wasn't out of town, and had things fixed pretty quick, replacing the battery, and tuning a couple other quirks the lift had developed with age. I'd been putting off a few things with it for a while... like my gloves (had to order on ebay) and various wheelchair repairs... (still procrastinating...)