Appliance Wrangling

One aspect of the essential interdependence of the marriage relationship not adequately explored by most sociologists is the need that a wife has for her husband’s ability to intimidate the appliances.

After God presented Adam with Eve as his new helpmeet, I suspect that He had words with Eve later out of Adam’s hearing.  Something along the lines of, “Just in case you ever think that you’ve got this whole homemaking thing under control, be warned:  you’re going to need Adam around to make things work that have refused to operate for no apparent reason.”

I’m positive that I’m not the only one that has experienced this scenario:

Earlier this week, I was dashing around the house trying to get things under control before my first piano student arrived.  There was a looming shortage of clean washcloths and towels, so I threw a load of whites in the washing machine.

Five minutes into my first lesson, the washer started making ominous sounds.

Thunk.  Thunk-thunk.  Bang, bang, BANG BANG BANG…. A deceleration of the sound of the strained motor…

… and then the washing machine distress call.  Ours sounds something like “Deetle-ee-deet!”, rising in anxious mechanical insubordination.

My student, who had stopped playing in rising curiosity as the percussive sounds crescendoed from the adjacent laundry room, raised an inquiring eyebrow.  I sighed, and explained that the washing machine had gotten unbalanced.  I dashed out, grabbed a few towels and redistributed the load and restarted it. I apologized for interrupting the lesson, and resumed teaching.

For about two minutes.

Then it came again:  Thunk.  Thunk-thunk.  Bang, bang, BANG BANG BANG….{pause}…“Deetle-ee-deet!”

Dreadfully embarrassed – it’s horribly unprofessional to interrupt a private lesson to attend to the laundry! – I again ran to the washing machine’s rescue.  It will sit there and “Deetle” until someone attends to it, so it wasn’t like it could be left to its own devices.  We would have all gone stark raving crazy…

I really should have just turned the thing off.  But I thought, “Surely if I just take out half the load, it will be able to spin at least the remaining half dry.”

I didn’t even get back to my chair before it started banging again.

Growling imprecations too dire to be uttered at full volume, I ran back in one more time, and turned off the machine.  I returned to the studio and announced my intention to leave the whole thing alone until my husband could come home and experience the joys of a recalcitrant washer for himself.

My student’s mother had been observing the whole power struggle with growing hilarity.  (Shared, may I add, by her daughter.)  She assured me that she was by no means irreparably offended by my ill-timed domestic tussle, and had experienced something similar when her refrigerator went kaput.

“But you know,” she said, “the minute the man of the house comes home – all he has to do is peer inquiringly into the machine and it will instantly behave itself.  The problem will be completely un-reproducible while he is in the house.  And as soon as he leaves for work in the morning, it will promptly go on the fritz again.  Husbands can’t understand why their wives can’t deal with intractable contraptions because appliances always work for them. ”

“Well,” I replied, “Given that the washer has steadfastly refused to spin this load three times in a row, it ought to give Mr. Caffeinated some idea of the craziness I’ve been experiencing before he works it out.”

Me and my big mouth.

Five hours later, Mr. Caffeinated walked in the front door.  I explained the dilemma and made my appeal for assistance.  He disappeared into the laundry room for approximately 20 seconds, and emerged followed by the sounds of the start of the spin cycle.  I eagerly anticipated the imminent crashing…

Which never came.  It spun calmly and thoroughly, and modestly beeped the announcement of the completion of its duties ten minutes later.

Utterly frustrated, I demanded a detailed explanation of the procedure by which my husband had cowed the wild beast.

“Oh – it’s simple.  I just pull everything out and wrap the towels one by one around the central post.  Then they don’t wad up to the side when it spins.”

That made sense.  I could do that.  Why didn’t I think of that?

Next time, I would be armed and ready!  Just wait!!

Flash forward two days.

Today, I washed the sheets and mattress cover of our bed.  Two sheets and a cover make for a full load in our washing machine, and our flannels are pretty heavy when wet.  It wasn’t long until the dreaded cacophony sounded throughout the house:

Thunk.  Thunk-thunk.  Bang, bang, BANG BANG BANG…. “Deetle-ee-deet!”

Ha!  I knew what to do – and boy, was I prepared for some feminine conquering and triumphing over the machine!

I laboriously pulled the heavy, dripping sheets out of the washing tub.  I carefully wound them around the center post.  I closed the lid, restarted the machine, and stepped back in anticipation of victory.

The motor started.  The drum began spinning faster.  Then… Thunk-thunk.  Bang, BANG BANG…. “Deetle-ee-deet!”

“What?!!”

Infuriated, I threw open the lid and viewed the masses of fabric huddled against one side of the drum.  I unceremoniously hauled out the contents and wrapped them tighter around the stem to prevent this rebellious redistribution scheme, slammed the lid shut and hit the button.

It didn’t even get close to full spin speed before it started banging away.  Natter, who had joined me in the laundry room, was close to busting a gut with laughter as I violently wrestled with the contents a third time.

I wrapped the sheets counter-clockwise this time, thinking that perhaps I had wound them in the direction of the spin and thus contributed to the problem.  I closed the lid and restarted the engine.

The rotation began, and rocked the unit.  As the contents began to stealthily sidle to one side, the machine’s flexible metal outer casing popped loudly on the side closest to me.

“Don’t you POP at me!!” I shrieked… and kicked the side of the washer as hard as I could.

It promptly changed its tune, redistributed the load, and spun quietly and thoroughly.  Just as if that had been its intention all along.

When I related the story to Mr. Caffeinated later, he agreed that, on occasion, percussive maintenance is indeed called for.

He still won’t let me use a mallet on the printer.

About dep31

I am a farm-raised homeschooling mom. I take great joy in making nutritious food that inspires people to take seconds. Thirds, anyone? We are a God-fearing, Christ worshiping family that enjoys good friends and good eats. If the kitchen is clean and the living room carpet is visible, then that's a nice bonus.
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One Response to Appliance Wrangling

  1. Bonnie says:

    this is nothing short of hilarious

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