Smart Home

Smart Solutions: Taking time to be thankful, even amid challenges

When dealing with supply chain issues, there can be lessons to be learned from these ongoing challenges. While inconveniences are rarely pleasant, I’ve found that some can lead to teachable moments.

What began as a new hot water heater installation in our home turned out to be anything but routine. At first, we were told faulty gas valves may be to blame for the fact that it wasn’t working, but when that was ruled out, Consumers Energy had to check the pressure to the house. In the end, it turned out to be a defective heater that had to be replaced by a new one the next day. After two days with no hot water, we were happy to have it back.

Even though these were considered to be top-of-the-line products, I know from my own experience that many high-cost home components do not have the same quality as their predecessors and that was true before the pandemic. Given the ongoing parts and people shortages, we can probably expect even more deficiencies and delays.

When I tried to make a service appointment for my car this month, which is typically available the next day, I had to schedule it for the following week due to high demand at my dealership. I was told the problem was not a staffing shortage, but the fact that so many people delayed their vehicle maintenance during the pandemic, while also putting off new car purchases due to low inventory.

Because they were so busy and I requested some diagnostics in addition to the oil change, I was there for hours. When I got to the post office, which was my next stop, there was a sign on the door that said they were closing early due to staff shortages. I had made it there in time to ship my packages, but there were at least a dozen people in line when I left. Afterward, I thought about grabbing a late lunch, but the restaurant I had in mind had cut their hours.

When a friend wanted to meet for an early morning weekend breakfast, I had a hard time finding a place that would be open at that time. Some of our old standbys now open later or decided to close on Sundays. Many of the hours and other information I found online are no longer accurate, so it’s best to call and hope someone answers the phone.

There are other factors to consider when getting to and from my destinations like the recent watermain breaks and emergency road repairs that create detours in addition to the regularly scheduled construction.

Still, as the Consumers Energy technician who came to our house reminded us, we are incredibly fortunate and we need to be grateful for what we have. Even when we had to do without hot water for two days, we still had food and shelter. Given the lack of workers and supplies, I feel gratitude this Thanksgiving and beyond for what I may have taken for granted in the past, from toilet paper to turkeys.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at


Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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