AGAIN

Nothing is built to last anymore. Even the repairman said so as he packed up last week, after administering Extreme Unction to my old washer. I dearly hope this one holds up for a while though.

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When you do massage for a living, you inadvertently become an expert on other subjects, to wit, sheets and washing machines. I remember washing machines the way some people remember addresses where they’ve lived or schools they’ve gone to. There was the economy Kenmore that lived at my former landlady’s house (for some reason, she insisted that its top always be daintily protected from any drifting dust or cellar grime by an old beach towel). There was the exhausted relic that came with the house where I live now, which started widdling on the floor like an incontinent old dog almost as soon as I moved in. I replaced it with a scratch-n-dent from Best Buy, which churned along for several years until I took a flyer on one of the first European style front-loaders to hit the US market, the “Neptune.” I got fond of Neptune. His door gasket eventually became mottled with black mildew stains, but he got things clean and didn’t use very much water. After nine years of spinning two or three loads every day, though, he began to make an alarming racket, suggesting one of the bearings was finally wearing down or that a small private plane was preparing to take off in my basement, directly under the massage room.

I hied me off to the showrooms, where I made the worst decision of my householding life. Neptune had cost a bucket but worked like a champ, so I decided that spending more wasn’t a stupid idea, and I sprung for an upstyled front-loader made by a company which might have made your phone or monitor. They make pretty decent electronics. Their large appliances, so far as I can tell, are for shit.

At first I thought the weirdly stiff sheets and towels were in that condition because the deliverymen had transposed the cold and hot water intakes. Oops. But no, even after that was fixed, things came out of the dryer looking kind of like origami. You can certainly design a washer that uses less water if you want to save water, but just a flea in the ear, there has to be enough water to actually wash things, I mean, if you take this to its logical conclusion, just don’t wash your clothes at all. Oh, and the bleach was meant to go in a little pull-out drawer positioned just exactly so as to drip bleach on your black work pants. Three pairs. Goddammit.

After a while the dark loads acquired a composty, funky smell that rose up from my person whenever I got hot and sweaty, which I do a lot.  It wasn’t stale sweat, it was actually mold that appeared to be forming inside the washer.

I prayed for the thing to break. There had, I learned, been a class action suit by a cohort of other moldy-smelling householders, but no joy. Fourteen hundred bucks before the discounts. You could do better pouring Tide in the bathtub and doing a grape-stomping number with the sheets.

So when the thing finally stopped draining, one crisp October evening in 2014 — pouring a black, viscous sludge over my basement’s concrete floor — I was delirious with joy and sped to Home Depot to buy a top loader with no agitator, very cool, and with a glass lid (it was $20 extra, but I don’t have a TV and it seemed like good entertainment), guaranteed not to fester.

It died last week.

Mike

Now you need to understand that when I say died, I don’t mean with a sigh or a whimper, nothing so unremarkable as press button = nothing happens. Oh, no, no, no. This washer was Violetta in the last act of Traviata, commencing on a Wednesday to utter incomprehensible “error messages” stating per the manual that the lid could not open, or could not close, though on these occasions neither action was required of it. It beeped at me, shrilly, in the dramatic soprano registers. I did some resets, also per the manual, and it performed for a while. Nonetheless, I sensed a need for a service call, especially as the whole small private plane sound effect seemed to be recapitulating itself. Wednesday went into Thursday, I was busy, I looked up my repair company’s website, I ran another load. Friday came around. I plunked a load in the washer. It beeped. CANNOT OPEN LID.  Wtf. It beeped. Unless unplugged, it beeped, harshly, piteously, importunately. I picked up the phone.

Mike was available, I was told. On Tuesday, he showed up and avowed that my machine was one of the greatest, generally speaking, he had one himself, but that I must have gotten one built on Monday, whose tub leaked and whose bearings and drive shaft were likely corroded, and that is before you get into the motor control responsible for all those merciless beep, beep, beeps. He actually got on the phone with Maytag, who were not going to budge on paying even a pro rata compensation for the parts he would need or, alternatively, comping me part of the cost of a new unit, unless I took a number and stood in line for one of their repair people to come look at it. This is how corporations wiggle out of paying for any of their fuckups.

Mike left me with a list of the models he regarded highly. He pulled the plug back out before he left. We had almost gotten used to the beeping.

Diane

Diane entered my life, briefly but meaningfully, an hour or so later in the local Home Depot showroom.

I had berthed in front of a Samsung washer with a hundred bells and whistles, amazingly discounted from something over a thousand to $548 large, and was trying to figure out what all it actually did (grill hot dogs? translate from the Sanskrit?). Diane, in her orange apron with name badge, sidled up beside me, caught my eye and shook her head slowly from side to side.

“You don’t want that one,” she said, sotto voce.

I like an honest salesperson. “It was a recall,” she elucidated. You remember all those Samsung phones that were exploding and catching on fire and they wouldn’t let you on a plane with one? Well they also succeeded in manufacturing exploding washers. (No, seriously, click on that link. You know you want to.)

I told her what I needed and she looked in her computer, and found the last year’s model of one of Mike’s picks, in the warehouse for about forty per cent off the original price. Somewhere in the system there was a ten per cent coupon floating around and she applied that too. It was Tuesday and they couldn’t deliver till Saturday; I counted the sets of sheets I had left, looked at the client schedule, and figured I’d come out with one to spare. If no one else called, which would have left me back with the prospect of stomping sheets in the bathtub with Sudso. Damn if I am going to a laundromat and listening to other people’s kids scream while the sheets tumble, I already have enough tsores.

Henry

So Friday night the phone rang. A robot lady told me that this was the Home Depot delivery service and my delivery was scheduled between TWO and SIX pm tomorrow. An hour later the call repeated. And again, an hour after that. I felt pretty sure I could expect that washer between two and six, and I was done at three, so that was pretty promising. At twelve-ten the next day, just as I was settling a client on the table, the phone rang. I was going to ignore it because it was a Hispanic name unknown to me and I am always getting butt dials from local Hispanic guys, but then the hair prickled up on the back of my neck and I picked it up. “Hello, this is Henry from Home Depot. I’m on my way now with your washer.”

It is nice the Engineer is living with me now for a lot of reasons. He met the guy, signed for the washer, and made sure the hoses were connected to the right pipes. A younger me would have called up Home Depot and bitched, but everyone’s just trying to live, and at least I had the frigging washer.

Here is how the laundry room looked once I had the first two loads in progress.

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I didn’t come up for air till last Tuesday. In case anyone was wondering where I’ve been.

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9 thoughts on “AGAIN

  1. Ugh. We only two maybe two loads a week, and have replaced both the washer and dryer in the 12 years we’ve been here. Part of that is heavy limescale, part of that is they live in a damn shed. Remember when Sears’ stuff used to last? I think that stopped about 20 years ago. Same age as the mower I picked out back then, that my dad still has!
    Our clothes also started to get that funk, and it was driving me crazy. Turned out himself washed EVERYTHING on cold to save money. Yeah, not gonna continue with that method. I do sweaty physical work for a living, and I shed skin like a…like a… like a disgusting person who sheds skin all the time. Not a mixture you want festering in your sports bra for months! Gag.

      • I have to use hot water because the main ingredient of my laundry is cream and oil stained sheets. When that builds up, you can get a fire in your dryer, not the way you want to light up the night. So you need a long cycle and the hottest wash water, I actually turn up my water heater. Cold rinses are fine, but I take no chances.

  2. Have been a while since I read one of your funny stories. I think I should try to find some time for that!

    Sounds like I’m not going to look into Samsung appliances for my new stuff. I’ve been intending to change all my appliances for like 5 years now, but so far nothing stopped working.

    • And it’s been a while since we heard from you! I think. I’m pretty sure I set my subscription to your blog via e-mail; I always forget to look at the Reader thingy. I’ve been a little overwhelmed with stuff coming at me off the Net lately, really a little overwhelmed period. Living with someone is nice but it eats up my time unexpectedly, and now there are SIX cats, one with a condition. Who just nearly ate my hand when I gave him his pill. Eek.

  3. Wow, washer drama at your place is spectacular. Back when Tuffy P and I got married, we bought a tiny house in an are of Toronto known as Little Portugal. It was about 700 sq feet, with a basement whose ceiling was perfectly built for me to knock my noggin on something on another every time I was down there. In the basement there was a washer and drier. Bonus. After we bought the house, we realized that the only way that washer and drier could have got down the basement was to have been beamed down from the Enterprise. The stairway was simply too narrow. We figured they took the basement window frame right off, removed the ductwork and surrounding drywall and got them in that way. We lived in that house for 8 years and when we left, we included the still working washer and drying with the house. The place we live in now came with a good pair of Maytags. At some point, something or another broke so we called a repair guy. He fixed the washer no problem. While he was at our place he was taken with all the art hanging around our house – it really is out of control. He said, “I got something for you – just a minute” and off he went to his truck, returning with an 8X10 photo of the moon. This guy takes them from his back porch in the dead of night. He’s obsessed with moon photos and it turns out he’s pretty good at it. He said he only gives them to people who he thinks would appreciate his hobby/obsession. He even signed the photo with a silver sharpie for us. We put a nice frame on it and hung it in a really good spot.

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