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The clicker dilemma
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The ceiling fan and light in my bedroom turn on and off with a remote control. You have to leave the light switch permanently on, and then find the clicker (my household's name for a remote) to operate the controls.

The fan and light are probably more than 10 years old, and needless to say, my husband bought it. He loves gadgets while I want the simplest of simple so there is little to go wrong. We really are opposites in many ways. But we have been married almost 47 years so we must be doing something right.

The first clicker or remote was lost by my oldest granddaughter. Well, not really lost. She actually hid it. Since I couldn't find it, I purchased a replacement clicker which worked just fine.

Then my granddaughter came to visit again and found the original remote so I had two clickers. They both worked, so I kept the original one out and put the replacement in a drawer. We were fine for probably five or six years.

Then about a year ago the original clicker began to go wonky. When the light was on, the light blinked continually or slowly dimmed and brightened. It was really quite unnerving, especially if you were trying to find something during the brief flashes of light. I thought there was something wrong with the fixture and told my husband we might have to buy a new light. (The thought of buying anything new gives him apoplexy.)

After several days of experimentation, we finally figured out that if you took the battery out of the original clicker and used the replacement one, we were fine. The light and fan were fine, the remote was not.

So I tossed that remote and began using the replacement. Until last week. I hate to admit this. I'd tell you not to tell my husband, but he reads my columns. I washed the clicker with the bed sheets.

I've done this before with my cell phone so I can tell you electronics do not endure a round in the washing machine and survive.

I was not too concerned. I had bought one replacement remote; I would buy another. I went to our local big box store and discovered that you could no longer buy just the remote. You had to buy the remote plus the apparatus that went in your fan to receive the instructions from the remote.

Why would they discontinue selling remotes? Why do you have to purchase innards for the fan and light when it already has innards. Plus I don't want to get up on a ladder to monkey with the fan.

The salesman said I could contact the fan company and see if they could supply me with a remote. I went home and got searched for the fan company on my computer. Guess what? The big box store owns the fan company. I e-chatted or whatever you call it with a representative of the big box store who gave me a phone number to call about the fan.

I called the number. The lady was no help. Without a serial number or some other number to identify the fan, she could not help me. I asked her why, if the remote at the big box store looked exactly like the one I washed, I could not use it and just program it to match my fan. She sounded skeptical.

I have wasted the better part of two days trying to solve this problem before confessing.

Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at