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The microwave goes ballistic

     Ten o'clock at night. The microwave was popping popcorn. The popcorn bag was lying flat on its back, enjoying the ride and the sound of the microwave quietly humming as it slid the bag back and forth. And then everything went ballistic.

     The microwave started blowing like a wind in a hurricane. What th'heck? I had to stop it fast—everyone else in the house was sleeping. Or had been. Orange letters started scrolling across the front of the microwave telling me to replace the filter.

     Filter? What filter? The hurricane was blowing mercilessly. Frantically I pressed this pad and that pad. The wind blew on. How can you get a new filter at ten o'clock at night? For five years, the microwave never needed a filter. Hopefully I could get a filter from Home Depot or the appliance repair store, but that would be tomorrow.

     For a minute I thought I lucked out. I'd been pressing the "vent" pad and this time the blowing slowed to a gentle breeze. Not for long. Seconds later it whipped itself back up to storm level. I pressed, jabbed and punched the pads randomly. And then it stopped.

     Don't know what I did. Ever so gently I pressed the "stop/clear" pad. I held my breath and in stealth mode I reached into the microwave's innards and lifted the hardly-popped popcorn bag out. No popcorn tonight but I found the manual and tomorrow I'd get the filter.

     Of course, no stores stock microwave filters.  Of course, the manual didn't give a part number. I ordered one that looked like mine and crossed my fingers.

     A very short paragraph on how to replace the filter with not a single illustration. First step: remove the two screws at the top right front of the microwave. There weren't any. At least I couldn't see any.

     I called in Christy, my daughter. She always finds things I've been looking for for hours—in a couple of minutes. Sure enough she found the screws, inside the aluminum strip across the top of the microwave. She unscrewed them and took out the old filter. And then she went off to Chico to spend a week's vacation with her sons.

     I learned one thing: never have someone help you with an appliance repair unless they're going to be there until the end. More on that later. . . I ended up having to order the filter and wait two days for it to get here. Two days later I'm up on the stepstool looking for a place to put the filter. Nothing looked like an empty place where a filter might have been. Christy had taken it out, but from where? I had to call her and ask where in heck the filter was supposed to go. Sure couldn't tell by looking.

     I had to call her twice. The filter just kind of hangs in the middle of the vent. Once I got that in, all I had to do was screw the two screws back in. In where? Christy took them out. Where from—I had no idea. Plus these were really tiny screws. Tine screws, tiny holes.

     This called for another call to Christy. She didn't remember. Just kidding. She told me where to find the screw holes and I screwed them in without a bit of trouble until one fell down into the innards of the vent. Now I had to go up to the third step of the stepladder to look down and find it. My head almost touching the ceiling, I am not comfortable here.   

     But I found the screw. Luckily for me, it hadn't fallen far. I screwed the two screws in tightly and tilted the vent cover back into its proper position. Filter replacement accomplished. All is well in my kitchen. For now. . .

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