We had our first household crisis as the coronavirus pandemic shut down the country in March.
Sickness? Nope. Job loss? Nope. We’ve been lucky on the big stuff.
“The washing machine is making a strange noise,” my wife told me. She was worried it was going to give up the ghost, and we’d end up with a broken washer full of dirty water and nowhere to wash our clothes during a pandemic.
My view was our ancient washer and dryer were still washing and drying. Why not leave good enough alone? They might last years more with any luck.
The next day, we went to an appliance store and bought a new washer and dryer for delivery the following week.
Our next crisis came when we got home and pulled out the measuring tape. The doorway to the tiny first-story room where we do our laundry was 26 inches wide, and the washer and dryer we had just bought were each 27 inches wide, two inches more than the existing machines. There was no way the new washer and dryer were going through that doorway.
We canceled the order.
We looked at buying a compact washer and compact dryer, which could fit through the doorway. But they were far more expensive than a conventional washer and dryer, washed smaller loads, and the consumer reviews we read on them were underwhelming. We worried that we’d spend a lot of money and end up with machines we liked less than our existing ones.
So we did nothing.
Our final crisis came in August. It wasn’t the washing machine, which was still chugging along, even if made groaning noises in its spin cycle like a plane landing. It was the dryer. Its control knob had broken.
Clarissa, who is the handy one in this family, had to use pliers every time she wanted to do the wash. It didn’t seem to make sense calling a repairman for a machine near the end of its life.
I suggested gluing the knob back on. Clarissa looked at me if I were an idiot.
We thought about buying full-sized new machines and putting them downstairs in a room next to the garage, where there are also laundry connections. One problem: We’d have to go outside and open the garage door every time we wanted to wash a load there.
That sounded like a pain in the summer. And it sounded positively miserable in the winter.
I called up our unflappable contractor, Mark. No problem, he replied. Mark said he could remove part of the door frame and trim to get the washer and dryer in our current laundry room. The cost would be $400.
Well, $400 is about what we paid for our first washer and dryer together from
back in the 1980s. But times have changed, I guess. Not even Sears, which has closed most of its stores, is the same.
So we ordered new machines, and gave Mark the go-ahead. He removed part of the door frame and trim, installed the machines, and replaced everything. It all happened in one day.
I keep waiting for something to go wrong. I had washed my clothes before we got rid of the old machine just in case there was some snafu and we had to live weeks without a washer and dryer.
But it turns out that the installation went fine, as have the initial uses. Just the same, it’s not an exercise I’m eager to repeat. May our new washer and dryer have a long, healthy life.
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