A long time ago, (in a galaxy far, far away--no, no, that's not it...sorry...) I was with a group of friends when we experienced some kind of...technical difficulty. I can't even recall the specifics, except that it was something totally minor that should have been quickly and easily figured out. Yet the entire group--well-educated, intelligent adults--could not for the life of us resolve the dilemma. It was at this point that someone (it might have been Husband, in fact) chuckled and asked the million dollar question: "How many degrees does it take to...[whatever the heck was causing us issues]?" Well, that became an instant catch-phrase for our jovial little gang, and to this day, we still use it at Casa WestEnders.
I'm taking the time to explain this because I just encountered a situation at my workplace, where it came in verrrrrry handy. You see, we have one of those fancy-schmancy refrigerators that provides you filtered water with the press of a button from the front door dispenser. After I'd been at the company a short time, I noticed that the warning light had come on, helpfully informing me that it was time to order a replacement filter. So I did the responsible thing: checked the manual for the appropriate part number...then ignored their advice to call them directly for the item, found it on Amazon for less than half the price, and ordered it.
When the shipment arrived, I tucked it away for safekeeping, until the second light alerted me that the moment had arrived to switch out the filters. I located the compartment--inside the fridge, near the back wall, below the freezer--opened it, and removed the old unit. So far, so good. However, when I tried to install the new one, it didn't seem to fit quite right...and absolutely no agua flowed through it, whatsoever. Even more alarming, when I next attempted to take it back out and start the process over, the housing seemed to be jammed. Super-duper--I'd only been employed there for about 6 weeks...and I'd apparently managed to break the fridge...gulp.
After struggling valiantly with it for a while, I gave up and confessed to a co-worker what was happening. She was sympathetic and understanding, followed me to the kitchen...and opened the damn thing in an instant. What the WHAT? Okay, that's great, but the filter itself still didn't seem to want to cooperate, despite our combined best efforts, so I called Maytag and was cheerfully given this spiel, "Oh, right, the part listed in the manual isn't used anymore. You need 'blah blah blah' instead!" Well, isn't that just...peachy? So I ordered the stupid correct part (for lots more money, incidentally), made a note in the stinkin' manual, and waited for the delivery.
In the meantime, I re-closed the compartment, so it wouldn't be hanging open or dripping onto the shelves. Yeah, you know what's coming, right? Uh-huh: no matter how hard I pushed that obnoxious plastic button, it just Would. Not. Release. So I did the mature thing....and ignored it until absolutely necessary. Then the box came, and with it the Day of Reckoning. Nope, still couldn't...wrestle...the holder open, even with all the brute force I could muster. I had no choice but to bring in reinforcements, in the form of two other ladies from the office. We all gave it the old college try, but in the end were forced, albeit grudgingly, to admit defeat.
Now there seemed to be only one option remaining to us--enlist a professional to get the job done. At this point, we were afraid we'd broken the part, and it would need to be mended or replaced. Thus I scheduled a visit with a local appliance repair service, for them to take a look at it. The very polite and friendly man showed up at the appointed hour, opened the refrigerator door...and popped the canister Right. The. Hell. Open. I stood there gaping at him for a second before gathering my wits enough to demand, (through gritted teeth, which wasn't easy, let me tell ya) "How did you DO that?"
Aaaannnd for the moment of truth: he demonstrated for me the mystical secret that had been eluding us, as he placed his right index finger gently on the tab...and PULLED, rather than pushed. Are. You. Freakin'. Kidding. Me? Yes, folks, it was just that simple. And 100% non-intuitive, if you ask me. (Bless him--the repairman assured me that he agreed it was "poorly designed". I think he was humoring me, but I appreciated it anyway.)
I swear it was like some kind of...twisted psych experiment, but I did learn something valuable: human beings, when faced with a lever, tend to want to shove it away, rather than tug it toward them. TAKE NOTE, MAYTAG! You're working against people's instincts, here! Or maybe...this is just some sinister plot to get your $95 charge for the guy to come out and spend approximately 3 milliseconds "fixing" our fridge? Well, I'm onto you--I wrote the correct filter number, and the complete instructions for replacing it, both in the manual AND in an email that I sent to everyone. So there! You'll never fool us again.
Oh, and the answer to the original query: 6 total degrees, including 2 Masters' and a PhD, were unable to bring a successful conclusion to...the Refrigerator Conundrum. Siiiiighhhhhhh....but hey, at least we're well hydrated, now....