Inept Already

So I don't remember if I mentioned this here or not, but a couple weeks ago, our washing machine broke. (A week to the day, incidentally, after our dryer had been repaired. Why, oh why, couldn't they have both broken—and been repaired—on the same day? I mean, they were obviously scheduled to break after four years, right? How hard would it have been to make sure that they broke on the same day?)

I'd been washing the second and final load of baby clothes (and drying a load of regular clothes) when I noticed a burning smell coming from the laundry room. Of course I assumed that it was the dryer burning, since that had just been fixed, and I wasn't entirely convinced that it had been fixed properly because the Check Lint Screen light remained on even after the repair. While sniffing around behind the dryer trying to discern from whence the burning smell was emanating, I noticed that the washer was in soak mode (that is, it was just sitting there, mid-cycle). I figured this was normal for delicates, but as I continued searching for the source of the burning smell, I realized that the washer had been in soak mode for a LONG TIME, and that the lights on the control panel actually indicated that it was Spinning, not Soaking.

Ladies and gentlemen, I think we've found the source of the burning smell.

I ended up having to fish all the baby clothes out of the washer (which, thank god, had already run through the rinse cycle), wring them out as best I could, and dry them for about two hours. I then called Sears, scheduled a repair, and bailed out the washer *almost* all the way (the belly made it difficult to reach down to the bottom, and after carrying six buckets to the bathroom sink, I was tired). What usually happens when you schedule a repair with Sears (or at least, this was my experience with the dryer) is that the repair guy comes out, looks at your machine, declares that you need some part that must be ordered, and says he'll be back in a week. If you happen to get *our* repair guy, he will also call at 7:15 on the morning of the scheduled 8-12 repair window and say he'll be there between 7:30 and 7:45.

This is indeed what happened with the washer. After arriving at 7:45am last Monday, poking around in the control panel for a while, and asking to see my manual, the repair guy declared that we needed a new motor (something I could have guessed for myself, based on the burning smell and the fact that the washer would neither spin nor drain). He said it would come in a fairly large box and be heavy, and that he'd be back in a week to install it. (Keep in mind that at this point, we'd been laundryless for a week already.)

Twice last week I had to push my little-old-lady wire basket down to the laundromat at 21st and Sansom, contracting all the way, to do a total of four loads of laundry, so I wasn't the least bit annoyed when the repair guy called at 6:55 this morning to say that he'd be there between 7:15 and 7:30. Who cared that this man obviously had no sense of which hours actually fall between 8 and 12? I WAS GOING TO BE ABLE TO WASH CLOTHES AGAIN. IN MY OWN HOME. No tokens required, no funny smell on the clothes from the super-perfumed detergent the guy before you had used, no freaking out when a piece of your clean underwear falls onto the skanky laundromat floor as you pull your things out of the front-loaders. THIS is why you become a homeowner: To have your very own washer and dryer.

So the repair guy gets going around 7:30 this morning, and at quarter to 8 he comes upstairs looking for me. "Are you done already?" I ask, since it usually doesn't take him long to install parts. "Almost," he says, "but you've got something stuck in your pump, so I'll have to replace that too. I'm going out to get one off the truck [he actually had a part with him! it's a miracle!]; while I do that, can you find me a tub that's lower and smaller than a bucket?" I tried showing him a few options, but he didn't like any of them. He ended up asking if he could use a container that had a bunch of random desk stuff in it instead. I dumped it out, handed it to him, and said go ahead.

While he struggled with the basin and the pump, I asked how the pump could have gotten clogged. "Overloading the washer, usually," he replied. I assure you, people, that this is something I NEVER DO. And I certainly hadn't done it with the baby clothes load... hm, wait a minute. Baby clothes. Small items. Is it possible something small had been sucked into the pump? Those of you with psychic powers already know the answer, right? Well, for those of you without psychic powers, the answer is YES! Yes, it is possible that something very small can be sucked into the pump EVEN IF YOU DON'T OVERLOAD THE WASHER. That small thing turned out to be... a single blue sock. "Oh," I said, when the repair guy told me that the sock was the culprit. "I guess maybe I have to hand wash those?" "Nope," he replied. "Just get one of those mesh bags. See ya."

So it turns out that Sears is off the hook for not properly coordinating their washer/dryer breakdowns. They may have been at fault for the dryer, but it was me and my inept baby sock handling that took out the washer. I haven't even had the baby yet, and I'm already fucking up as a parent. This tip about the mesh bag wasn't in any of the books I've read so far (although it's true I haven't finished any of them yet). I called my sister to see if this was common knowledge among parents who do laundry, and she said, "oh, I knew about the mesh bag, but I always thought it was so you didn't lose the socks." Right, INTO THE PUMP. So for those of you pregnant or soon-to-be-pregnant people who didn't know about the mesh bag, now is your chance to buy one and USE IT. You'll save yourself a lot of hassle with Sears (or with the owner of the laundromat if you're doomed to do your laundry in public). And, of course, you won't be stuck with one mateless blue sock.

Posted by Lori in around the house and parenthood at 8:13 AM on November 22, 2004