The Warranty File

A Lifetime Guarantee for Everything!

Last night the handle came off the lid to my Dutch oven while I was right in the middle of making chili. With terrific fanfare it hit the stovetop and then clattered onto the floor with a deafening bang, but not before dropping its single little metal screw into the chili as a lovely parting gift. (I thought about fishing around for it, but why go to all that trouble when I could just wait for Marc to crack a crown on it during dinner?)

So anyway, I was standing there holding a handle with no lid attached, faced with three clear options for what to do next. One: I could fashion a new handle out of duct tape and a golf ball. Two: I could stomp my dainty foot and exclaim "Double Drick!” as I tossed the lid in the trash. Or Three: I could march right into the study to pull out THE WARRANTY FILE.

I went with Option Three, where I was relieved, but not surprised, to find stapled to the original receipt from 1973, a card promising full replacement of any defective part for the lifetime of my cookware. Score!

So, faster than you can remove orange chili stains from a rubber spatula, I flew to my computer to locate the nearest distributor for the brand of my pots and pans, only to find to my complete and utter dismay that while my warranty had survived for more than 39 years, alas the company itself had not. Apparently it went belly up in 1984. Double Drick!

Now I'm sure there are a lot of you out there in common-sense-land whose next move would have been to throw the card away, along with the lid. But I don't live in common-sense-land; I live in Marc-Lewis-land, where one never ever discards anything from the WARRANTY FILE, no matter how seemingly obsolete. The reason being, in this case, that the manufacturer of my cookware could at any moment suddenly arise from the ashes and miraculously begin producing Dutch ovens again, at which point the company would most assuredly be obligated to honor this legally binding document.

So I folded the paperwork up carefully and put it back in the folder, right next to an installation guide for the garage door opener to a house we moved out of ten years ago, a receipt for a portable cassette player that we sold at a garage sale in 1991, and the operator's manual for a Dazey brand (now defunct) bonnet hair dryer (which I no longer have) that I bought at a Woolco store (also now defunct) in Midland, Texas (a city where I no longer live.) What's wrong with this picture?

I'll tell you what's wrong with it. It's totally ridiculous! And yet virtually since the day I married I've lived cheek by jowl with this annoying WARRANTY FILE in its horrible rancid-raw-beef colored folder with its ragged edges held together by heavy packing tape simply because it is the pride and joy of my husband, the omnipotent ruler of Marc-Lewis-land.

I know what you're thinking. You're wondering why I don't just get rid of the WARRANTY FILE and be done with it. Believe me, I've been tempted, but oddly enough, just about the time I'm fed up enough to hurl the whole silly thing out the window it somehow manages to redeem itself. Take last month for example. My husband and I were out for our evening stroll when one of his sandals blew a strap. "Not to worry,” he assured me. "It's under warranty!”

When we got home he headed straight for the WARRANTY FILE and sure enough, right there between a service contract for a CB radio, and a purchase receipt for a stud finder (as if I really needed that) was a lifetime guarantee for this very pair of sandals. Marc boxed up the defective shoes along with the required paperwork, and within a week a brand new pair arrived in the mail along with – you guessed it – another lifetime warranty. I wouldn't mind so much except for the fact that I hate those sandals. I always have, and it looks like I always (and I do mean always) will.

I hate that WARRANTY FILE too. And yet I'm completely powerless to escape it. In fact, as we speak, its guts are spread out all over my desk and I'm in a frantic search for one specific little item. I've found manuals for every cordless telephone and VHS player we've ever owned, not to mention certificates of ownership for the grandfather clock, a tricycle (our youngest child is thirty-three) and a full set of leather bound encyclopedias.

Unfortunately that's not what I'm after. Remember that tiny little metal screw that fell into the pot of chili last night? Well Marc found it alright. Now if I can just locate that warranty from his dentist for that new porcelain crown. I know it's in here someplace…

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