The washing machine died in mid-load. So it is with appliances. They do not go gently into that good night. They do not pass in their sleep, as we all want to do. Instead, they fail fully loaded, holding a last stew of lightly soaped gray water with half-clean clothes. At 10 p.m.
We’ll deal with it in the morning. While we sleep, maybe, the device will suddenly revive and finish with one last determined gasp. Or through some domestic miracle, all the water will drain out of the tub. Life’s best problems are the ones that solve themselves, wouldn’t you say?
Not this day. Let the wringing begin.
First rule in washing machine repair — unplug. Unplug every single thing anywhere near the laundry room. It’s going to be wet.
Bail water by bucket as if the boat is sinking. Then, to capture the rest, assemble bowls, a vise grip and rags, disconnect the drain and be discomforted in knowing you’ll capture 96 percent of all the water … and sit in the other 4 percent.
Remember the old washing machine with the rolling wringers in your grandmother’s basement? What an advance that was, the wringing washing machine. As a young woman in the Old Country, she washed the clothes in the river and wrung out every garment by hand. She had strong hands. You learn why.
It’s time to purchase a new washing machine, and it’s a real beauty. With their digital selections, lights, sounds and basic look, our household appliances have come to resemble the Lunar Lander. Except the one we bought won’t touch down for 10 days. It’s time to find a coin-operated laundromat.
Coin-operated laundromats are few and far between in Oro Valley. We live in the Town of Abundant Appliances, a place of affluence where there’s a washer and dryer in every abode. There’s little market for a coin-fed laundry in OV.
Catalina has a place, tucked away in a plaza, and on Saturday we bag the clothes, assemble the collected quarters from a cup, drive north and start filling machines. Seven, in all, at $2.25 a load. That’s 63 quarters, $15.75. There’s no time to read the paper. One machine finishes its course as the last one is loaded.
On to the dryers, huge drums, at 25 cents for 6 minutes. And 25 cents for 6 more minutes. Soon, you’ve stopped keeping track. It goes quickly, the time, and the money. Minus detergent, it’s a $25 outing.
If you went to the coin laundry twice a month, you’d spend $50, or $600 a year. That’s enough to buy a very nice washing machine, something that would last for years. But people struggling to get by can’t write a $600 check. They save their quarters, yet they can’t get ahead.
That’s the class system in modern America. The fortunate buy their washing machines. The undercapitalized, under-credited less-fortunate rent them, over and over again. They don’t wring their clothes by hand, at least, but this washing machine failure has clarified an insight into America. The affluent own appliances. The rest are caught in the spin cycle.