Through the Wringer

Let’s talk about my husband and the washer and dryer. I know it seems super passive-aggressive to whine about my spouse and his relationship with our appliances here, but since he doesn’t read this crap I write, I assert that it’s not passive-aggressive (I’m not expecting him to read this and change his behavior), but just venting to a group of people who may sympathize (or may say, quit whining and STFU, you passive-aggressive bitch).

So, we have this washer and dryer that my husband claims are total pieces of shit. I’m not even sure what brand they are (yes, I could go look—no, I’m not going to) but they were expensive and he claims they’ve never been worth what we paid. Yes, well, here’s the thing—everything that’s gone wrong with them has been his fault.

My husband does all the kids’ laundry. I know—I’m lucky. Right there I should be told to STFU because he washes and folds it all. In return (in my defense), I do all the grocery shopping and cooking, plus handle everything to do with school, homework, or kids’ health (plus hold down a full time job). But here’s the problem—we have four kids, and naturally they have a lot of clothes. To him, “a load of laundry” is “as much shit as you can cram in the washing machine and still have room for water.” Also, sorting is a foreign concept to him. Wash whites separately from darks? Why would you do that? That just takes extra time and makes more loads. Um, so everything doesn’t turn the color of a Krakow apartment block?

So he’s been overloading the washer and dryer for 8 years, and naturally that’s starting to have an effect on the poor things (plus all the kids’ socks are the color of cigarette ash). I’ve kept my pie hole shut, because he’s been doing it so who am I to complain? But now that the machines are starting to break down, he’s blaming them. I finally had to say something. The response was the expected, “Do you want to do their laundry?” to which I responded, “Yes, I will” (and meant it). He didn’t take me up on that.

There’s another thing to consider—he fucked up the machines a couple of years ago switching them around. For whatever reason, he got a bee in his boxer briefs about having the machines go from right to left, instead of from left to right (as in, the washer was on the left, and you moved the stuff to the right to put it in the dryer. For reasons that I no longer remember, he wanted it the other way. I can’t see that it matters, because they’re both front loaders). The dryer is…well, whatever the word is like ambidextrous that means the dryer door can be hinged either on the left or the right, depending on which way you want the door to swing open. So he flipped that, and moved over to do the same thing to the washer. His plan after that was to swap the position of the machines, with the dryer on the left and the washer on the right.

The first problem is, you can’t do that to the washer. The washer has to be hinged on the left because the latching mechanism is on the right side only. Because it’s a front loader, it has to lock so your toddler couldn’t open the door in mid-cycle to get out the binky you were trying to wash and have water and suds go everywhere in a flood unrivaled since the days of Noah. So he undid the washer hinges, only to discover that he couldn’t do what he wanted to do, and had to put the door back the way it was in the first place.

The second problem is, when the hinge screws on the washer were tightened when the thing was assembled, they used a pneumatic drill to tighten them. So they were really, really tight. Tighter than any suburbanite asshat with Black & Decker rechargeable drill could ever get them. You see where this is going. The hinges have never been the same since, which means the washer leaks unless it’s stuffed so full of clothes that what’s in it absorbs so much water that there’s none left to leak out. So that reinforces his bad “overloading the washer” behavior, which stresses out the washing machine motor.

As a charming sub-problem to the hinges not being tight enough, the “male” piece of the locking mechanism (not to get kinky, but that is the technical term) is now out of alignment with the female piece that’s actually in the machine housing. Therefore, if you don’t close the door very carefully, you slam the sticky-out part against the machine, and that sticky-out part is not made of titanium. It’s just plastic, and sooner or later, if you accidentally slam it enough times, it breaks. It can be replaced—it’s just a matter of buying the part and screwing it in place, and the part only costs four bucks or something, but they have to be ordered online and take a couple of days to arrive (unless you pay the extra twenty bucks for overnight shipping. No thanks). We have four spares around somewhere, because the last time we had to order them, I said, “Fuck ordering them one at a time; let’s order a bunch so we have them when we need them.” What that also means is that sometimes you don’t close the door tightly enough the first time, because you’re afraid to slam it and risk breaking the sticky-out part, so you have to give it a kick to make it close completely. When your foot is one of the indispensable tools you use to get a load of laundry going, it’s getting ridiculous.

But the dryer is also showing signs of this abuse. A year or so ago a belt broke (because drying the equivalent of 27 sopping wet towels at a time every time you turn it on takes its toll) so he replaced it. As you probably don’t need to be told, my husband is not the Maytag Man. (He’s a Customer Loyalty Manager for a software company.) The dryer squeaked unbearably forever after that. It sounded like someone was torturing baby chicks in my laundry room every time we dried a load of clothes. The only thing to do was close the laundry room door and grit your teeth.

Yesterday it stopped working again. Again he took it apart to see what was going on. Another broken belt. Or maybe the same belt had broken again. I don’t know how many belts the damned thing has. So he repaired that, and now it doesn’t squeak, but this morning he announced that the load he tried to dry last night didn’t dry properly—it’s now not heating up, it seems. What the fuck? I went up after he left for work this morning and checked it, and the stuff that was in there drying felt warm, and was mostly dry, so maybe he just did something wrong when he dried the  previous load.

He wants to buy a $1400 replacement dryer, and no doubt he’ll feel like we should replace the washer at the same time. At this point, I’m not sure the machines we have are salvageable. We may have crossed the point of no return with our abuse of them. All I know is, if we do replace them with machines that will cost as much as airfare to Europe for a family of six, we are not burning out their motors with the “college load” method of clothes washing he’s been doing up to this point (you know, when nothing really gets clean, but it all gets wet and comes out on the other side smelling OK). I may be forced to take over the kids’ laundry so we don’t have to keep replacing washers and dryers, but it’s a small price to pay to possibly get to go to Europe someday.


Unknown said...

Torturing baby chicks - that's a good one. Love the whole switching the washer & dryer for NO reason whatsoever. That seems like a lot of work for, um, nothing. Is he left handed? Does that have something to do with it?

Tracy said...

Nope, not left handed. I think he had some mechanical reason for it, because the dryer vent IS on the left (which is the outside wall of the house), but it hadn't been a problem up to that point, so why fuck with it? Grr.