Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Conquering the sectional

This is a story of a blogger who is somewhat mechanically incompetent, a piece of furniture, and a helpful company.

About a year and a half ago, I bought a piece of furniture. (This is highly unusual: in my adult years, I have bought exactly one piece of furniture that can be used for sitting. Well, real furniture. I do have card table chairs. And generous friends who've upgraded their own houses.) It's actually pretty nice ... I figured if I was going to spend money, I should invest it well. It's a Palliser Regent sectional, a three-seater with power reclining on all three seats and wedges in between with cup holders and storage. Of course, shortly after I bought it, I found myself with much more free time than income, but it all worked out in the end.

So, one day a couple of months ago, the center section (my seat) stopped reclining. I played with the wand a bit (the ends have the reclining controls on the outside, but with no outside in the middle, you have a corded control) to no avail. Contacted the company and explained my situation.

They wrote back and said that the wand might be locked ... I immediately pictured a cat with a paw on one of the buttons for an extended period of time. Possible. However, the instructions for unlocking the wand involved a power button. I do not have a power button, just arrows. No help there.

No problem, they said. We'll look into getting you a new wand.

A couple of weeks pass, and they get one from the manufacturer; a couple more, and it arrives. Two pieces: the wand and an extension cable.

Now, when the contractors came to install it (kind of like with satellite, where they contract with local providers to set you up), they explained how the cord worked, and if I had problems with it, I should check under the recliner cushion for the wand cord. Done. (I tried unplugging it and the power brick; didn't reset it.) So I knew where the cords were supposed to go. I took the wand and fed the other end underneath the recliner, went around the back (yes, this is why I have the recliner two feet from my back wall; that, the need to get back there to clean up hairballs, and the shorter length of the 360's play-n-charge cord were all factors), got the end, went to plug it into the power brick ...

... and saw that it did not go there. Uh-oh. Checked both cables. Checked the model on the wand I had. Yep, that's the right wand. Surely they wouldn't send the wrong extension cable? Checked the packing slip. Seems to be right.

Time to get the flashlight. Pulled the new wand back up from the side of the cushion, got down in back again, shined the light in, followed the existing cable from the power brick to underneath somewhere, followed the existing wand cable down to the existing extension, moved the loose end out of the way to ...

... what?

oh ho.

There is a cable not plugged into anything. I believe I've just found the problem. Maybe I don't even need the replacement. So, let's test this theory. I'll just reach underneath and plug it back in ... except that the distance from the back of the recliner to what I think is the plug is almost exactly the distance from the inside of my shoulder to the tips of the fingers on my other hand. If I were swimming across the carpet to touch the plug, I'd be set. However, that doesn't help here. No choice but to go around the front.

Fortunately, the foot of the recliner is spring-loaded and can be pulled forward (otherwise we have to lift out the sectional pieces, no problem with two people but you may notice there is not another person mentioned in this story). I pull forward enough to see the loose end, what I suspect is the hole, and not much else. Josie, naturally, wants to see what is going on. (She is the prime suspect for the whole thing anyway, as she has actually gone underneath the sectional before. Calle does not care to try.) She watches as I line up the cable and the hole and then play the safecracking game ... at what angle does this fit? No, no, no, no, no, no ... yes, that works. Pull arm out from under sectional, plug in wand ... buttons light up.


Reclining once again, and with an added bonus: extra parts in case something really does break! Also, better knowledge of what I have. If I'd known better, I would have been able to fix it much earlier (knowing that there are actually three cords: wand to extension, extension to chair, chair to power brick). Of course, I'd also have bet on the Pirates rather than the Orioles in the '79 World Series, and I'd have understood what Shannon was saying when she ... anyway, you get the point.

The moral of the story is that cats unplug things and then place bets on how long it takes you to figure things out.


  1. How were the repair people at your house and they left without the repair being completed?

  2. No no no, not repair people. Installation people. They set up the sectional and it worked fine. When it stopped working, I contacted them online, and they shipped the replacement part to me. No repair people came by.

  3. Now I understand. Good job fixing the couch.


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