By Hannah Reich Berman

There are some pieces of equipment that occasionally cause me angst because I seem to have a difficult time hanging on to them. On a recent Friday, I was suddenly unable to locate the remote control that operates my electrically powered bed. Perplexed, I frantically searched every corner of my bedroom–the bedroom being the only room in which that remote is ever used. My search was for naught; it had disappeared.

On any other day of the week, this would not have constituted an urgent problem, but as we are now in the throes of winter, Shabbos starts early. That day it would begin at 4:45 p.m. so I did not have much time left to use the remote. I needed to get my mattress in the exact position that I wished it to be in if I wanted to get a good night’s rest.

It had to be somewhere–it did not just get up and walk away. As I was not alone in the house at the time, I decided to ask for help. I went into the kitchen to ask Jimmy, my plumber, to help in my search. Jimmy had come to replace a leaky kitchen faucet, not to help me look for lost objects. But based on the cost of the plumbing job, I felt comfortable asking for additional assistance. He did not hesitate to come into the bedroom and get down on his hands and knees to look under the furniture. The speed with which he agreed to help told me that I was probably going to be paying him enough money to replace the faucet and, at the same time, enable him to send his wife and kids away for the summer.

I had already looked under every piece of furniture in the bedroom, but the condition of my aging knees did not allow me to remain on them for very long, so perhaps Jimmy could take a longer look. As a plumber, he practically lives on his knees, so it would be no problem for him to search for a while. And, as he is the same age as most of my children, his eyes are younger than mine. He would be more likely to find it than I would.

After ten minutes of searching, he gave up. “Sorry, Mrs. B., but that remote control is not here!” His words felt like stabs to my heart. Seeing the look of dismay on my face, he suggested I take off the bed-covering and shake it out, and then he mentioned that I might want to check inside the pillowcases. I did all of that, but I got exactly nowhere. The thing really was gone.

My next move was to call Kelvin, the repairman I use whenever there is a problem with my bed. My Tempur-Pedic bed occasionally lives up to the first half of its name; it becomes temperamental. In frustration, I begged Kelvin for help and, honest soul that he is, he assured me that I did not need his help. He remembered that I had one control for my bed and one for Hubby’s, so he instructed me to call the company and ask somebody to walk me through the steps of reprogramming the other remote, which had not been used in five years, so that it would operate my mattress.

Kelvin told me I would need to supply the model number of the bed, which I would find somewhere on the bed frame. Uh-oh! I swallowed hard. This meant that, once again, I would have to get on my knees, and I had not yet recovered from having done that 30 minutes earlier. But I was embarrassed to ask Jimmy for help again. I nearly wept in frustration, but Kelvin, hearing the dismay in my voice, calmed me down. (Most of the repair people I call discover early on that part of their expertise must include calming me down.) Kelvin continued. “Take a deep breath and relax! Forget I said anything about the model number. The company probably has your purchase listed by your phone number, and when you give that to them they will know what the model number is.” Relief washed over me.

And he was right. The lovely woman who took my call asked for my phone number and knew immediately what the model number was. Then she talked me through the reprogramming steps. First I was told to unplug the bed’s wire from the power source, wait 30 seconds, and then plug it in again. Right away that was trouble for me. Why didn’t she just use the word “wall”? Why did she have to use two words when one would have done the trick? I don’t do well with terms like “power source.”

She sensed my confusion–people always do when I suddenly go silent–so she came down to my level and told me that the power source was the wall outlet. She now knew that she was talking to someone who needed special assistance. It took a while, but, with her help, I did it all. I unplugged the wire, then plugged it back in, and then pressed every button she told me to press. It was not enough! Nothing happened. After a brief pause she said, “Mrs. Berman, are there batteries in that remote control?”

Oops! I think she knew the answer to that question even before I responded. Sheepishly I admitted that I had removed those batteries long ago. She waited patiently while I went to find four new batteries and insert them. It was not easy to insert those very small AAA batteries with fumbling fingers–and, as I was most definitely stressed, I was fumbling. I did eventually get all four batteries inside and in the correct position, muttering The plus side goes here, the minus goes there . . . Who knows what the woman was doing during that time–probably reaching for a tranquilizer.

The process took some time, but it was successful. Within minutes, I had a working remote control with which I could position my bed’s mattress the way I wanted it to be for the 24 hours of Shabbos. On any other night I might pick up the remote control multiple times to change the position of my mattress, setting the head to go up and the feet down, or vice versa. I thanked the woman for her help, said goodbye, and then went into the kitchen to say my goodbyes to Jimmy, who had by then finished installing the new faucet. I forked over a small fortune to him and then I got ready for Shabbos, which, by then, was less than an hour away.

The countdown to Shabbos continued, and 15 minutes before I was to light my candles, I went to shut off my computer. That’s when I did the classic double-take. There, on the mouse pad, right next to the mouse, was the missing remote control. When or why I brought it into the den I have no idea. That’s just the way it is!

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at or 516-902-3733.



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