Back somewhere around 1975, my boyfriend David gave me a Swiss Army knife. He made quite a big deal of its utility, and, honestly, he was right about that. He wasn’t right about much, but he was right about that.

Phantom Peals

Yesterday the doorbell, a bit of Ring electronics, a gift from the kids a couple Christmases ago or so, started ringing itself. Most of the time the sound was isolated; mostly Alexa ignored it, despite the fact that she generally announces that someone is at the door. Yes, a little redundant as conventionally the sound of the doorbell itself signified that.

Today the Phantom was irritatingly insistent. They really wanted in. I consulted the internet and tried reducing the sensitivity of the motion detector, but that clearly wasn’t the problem. Sometimes a blue light circled the doorbell button, sometimes not. I rang when I pressed it, and Alexa intoned, “someone is at the door.” When I called for Ring tech support, there seemed no solution to the problem that didn’t involve spending money. Look, in less than three weeks I will have relocated myself and my worldly goods to Boston. I have no interest in investing in a doorbell in Maryland.

Newer Not Better

Clearly the easiest and most sensible solution was to head to Home Depot and go back to the old ways. First challenge was to detach the Ring device from my doorjamb. It wasn’t obvious how to do that but I found, again on the Internet, some help. A screw at the bottom had to be removed first so that the cover could be pulled off. The screws holding the device to the jamb were then exposed; getting it off was simple.

Ring dismantled

Behind it was a block that tilted the device outward, for a more panoramic view of the front yard. There seemed to be two screws holding that one but one hold was packed full of crumbled leaves, dirt and dead ants. I think they were ants. I check with the son-in-law and grandson to find out what kind of screws were in there, and they supposed that the screws were Philips head. Finding longer, narrower screwdrivers was a bit of a challenge. The kids had really cleaned me out of screwdrivers when they were taking things they wanted from the garage.

“Too bad,” the son-in-law mused. “A Ring doorbell would have added to the sale value of the house.”

“Would it,” I thought? “Unlikely.”

One screw came out easily. The other was packed with the afore-mentioned detritus and it took a while to find the screw.

A Hole Too Small

a hole too small

Home Depot did not have much of a selection of doorbells, but I found one I thought would suit. I brought it back, scrounged enough tools to get it wired, and set it into the hole. Wouldn’t fit.

I twisted it, turned it and shoved it, but the awkward little space the Gemcraft workman had gouged out of the jamb simply wasn’t wide enough or round enough or something enough to accommodate to new doorbell. I was getting desperate.

In fact, I started composing a note to Nick, my handyman. Oh, gawd, what was it going to cost to pay someone to do something that shouldn’t be a problem for even a handy-spazz such as I. Then I had an idea.

My Swiss Army Knife

saw blade

My Swiss Army Knife, I knew, has a saw blade. I started scrabbling through my handbag. I had inadvertently carried it into the airport when I flew to Boston in January, but fortunately they let me pay to have it shipped back to me at home and didn’t force me to give it up. I found it, opened the saw blade and cautiously scraped around the hole, widening it and smoothing the edge.

Took a while but it worked!

Stuffed the replacement doorbell into the space and tightened down one screw. Cheesy metal. They sure strip easy. When I went to place the second screw, I realize that it didn’t match the first one and also wasn’t willing to go all the way in. Twisted it out, reset it and put the waning strength of my shoulder and the growing weight of my body behind it. Good enough.

And I did it my way.