IN MY DREAMS, my laundry room is airy and bright, with wooden folding tables and shelves with baskets to intelligently organize detergents, sewing supplies, my ironing board and clothespins. In other words, it would resemble a modest-size Apple store, except with a whole section devoted to orphan socks.

But the laundry room in my reality is a hellhole. It’s a tiny closet, actually, where space is so tight I can barely close the door on the stacked machines that I jammed in there. They hulk, stupidly, among other random items including the vacuum, an empty guitar case and a weird bed coverlet known as “the meat blanket” because its mottled pink-and-white pattern resembles a slice of Mortadella sausage.

Worst of all, though, is the washing machine, which smells like mildew because its rubber seal is a moisture trap—a defect I came to learn over the past eight years is common in front loaders, and in this model in particular.

So it was actually good news a few weeks ago when the washer broke.

“Mrmffk, grnnnn…faulty shut-off valve,” the masked repairman seemed to say through his N95 mask. He also managed to convey to me that fixing the problem would cost upward of $600—nearly as much as I paid for the machine when it was new.

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