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I’ll Do It Tomorrow

I have a long to-do list, and getting started on it is probably on there.
an illustration of Phil Gulley caught up in his list of to-dos

Illustration by Ryan Snook

IF I WERE to divide my life into categories, one of the larger groups would be Things I Should Do, But Don’t. Here I would include flossing my teeth, cleaning our chimney, and taking our dog Ruby to the vet for her annual shots. This has royally honked off, in order, the American Dental Association, the Chimney Safety Institute of America, and our veterinarian, if we had one.

An item was added to the list this past summer when I turned on the air conditioning in my Toyota and heard a crackling noise, as if a little slobby man were inside the blower motor eating potato chips. Some noises sound more expensive than others, and this one sounded costly. So to save money, I Googled, “What do you do when the blower motor in your Camry sounds like someone eating potato chips?” and up popped up a YouTube clip describing how to remove and replace the blower motor. I followed the directions and discovered the fins of my blower motor were filled with carboard and paper fragments, remnants of the cabin air filter. It turns out cars these days have cabin air filters that need replaced every six months and mine hadn’t been replaced in five years, therefore adding another item to my Things I Should Do, But Don’t list.

Most of my knowledge about cars and driving dates from the 1970s when I first learned to drive. I haven’t kept current on more recent developments in the field, including the regular replacement of cabin filters, which didn’t become popular until the early 2000s. I still try to drive with my hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2, just as I was taught, though safety experts now recommend lower placement on the steering wheel in the event the airbag deploys, adding yet another entry to my TISDBD list. To be honest, I don’t always keep my hands at 10 and 2 either since it makes it harder to text.

Because I’m in a confessional mood and we’re talking about filters, I admit to negligence concerning the regular replacement of all filters, whether in my furnace, cars, motorcycles, or riding mower. I generally wait until they’re so fouled with dust and grime the motor is starved for oxygen and quits. I quickly diagnose the problem (the same one every time), replace the filter, and go merrily on my way. Since we’re discussing filters, I want to point out that I own three furnaces, none of which use the same filter size. If I ever become the president, my first executive order will mandate that all furnace filters be the same size. And no more of these fancy HEPA filters that eliminate 99.99 percent of allergens. We’ve gotten too soft in this country, with too many people being allergic to too many things. It’s time we went back to the cheap filters that were good enough for our grandparents, many of whom chainsmoked and inhaled asbestos all day long and lived well into their 90s. Come to think of it, they didn’t even have air filters most of their lives and turned out just fine, notwithstanding the occasional coughing fit, expelling gallons of sputum and chunks of lung.

Lest you think this is an essay about filters, I’ll remind you of our initial concern, things we should do, but don’t, which surely includes cleaning the lint from the dryer hose once a year. It has been decades since I cleaned our dryer hose, and I fully expect our house to burst into flames any minute. On the plus side, when our house was built, the outdoor hose faucet was placed next to the outside dryer vent, so all I would have to do was jam our garden hose down the dryer vent, turn on the water, and douse the flames. Problem solved. Except a couple years ago, the hose faucet started leaking, so I shut the water valve off in the basement and haven’t gotten around to fixing the leak, yet another item on my TISDBD list.

I planned to do all these things when I retired, but then I neglected to save for my retirement, yet another item on my list. So I have no idea when I’ll address these matters. At this rate, I can only hope my dryer vent bursts into flames when I’m asleep and takes me quickly and painlessly, a man long on regrets and short on ambition. 

Philip Gulley is a Quaker pastor, author, and humorist. "Back Home Again" chronicles his views on life in Indiana.

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