May 31, 2015

They don't make 'em like they used to

What?  Try the power switch.  No?  Jiggle the handle.  Again?  Why?  Already?  No.  (tears)  But we just fixed it?  Where's that guy's number?  What now?  (moan)  How much?  How soon can someone come out?  When?  Again?  Really?  AGAIN?

A few years ago, these are the phrases that I began to utter more often than I care to admit.  Coach and I were able to communicate about our appliances through a series of grunts, eye rolls, and two word angry spurts.  I typically like to go for a humorous angle in my blog.  I'll try.  No promises.

I looked for the hidden camera.  Couldn't find it.  I suppose if there was a hidden camera it would have malfunctioned anyway . . . along with the rest of the house.  We can't even blame the kids.  Years ago, at our old house Laddie and Eddie admitted that they experimented with teddy grahams in the microwave.  There was a charred mark that scarred the warm up plate, but fortunately no real damage.

Hard to remember the sequence of failings.  It's epic though.  My folks gifted us with a top of the line dishwasher for Christmas one year.  The one they insisted on replacing still worked.  (key word here:  work).  If you could move past the loud noise and the crappy quality of the clean up job, the washer that came with the house was an average machine.  Exactly 13 months after the new gift was installed, the new dishwasher died.  The repair guy fixed the part that was giving us the problem.  That's when he realized that the whole board was out.  New part needed.  Not on the truck.  Next shipment in a week.  Once it was in, then they'd let me know when they could get back out.  I'm paying for all of this of course because the warranty expired after 12 months.  Never mind the inconvenience of no dishwasher for our big family.  I called and spoke to someone at corporate.  (When I say 'speak' I mean ranted).  I shared my experience with every higher up who would listen.  Finally, a suit agreed to pay for the repairs.  Awesome.  I was instructed that if anything else happened not to call them back.  When the dishwasher died mid cycle about 11 months later, I called a general appliance repair man.  He suggested that we run the hot water when we turned the dishwasher on.  The way I understood it, the board could burn out after working too hard to heat up the water.  Approximately six months later I found myself digging out his number again.  AGAIN!  Did I mention:  top of the line.  My parents felt ill about their investment.  The big wad of dough they blew on this gift was starting to cost us money left and right.  A few weeks after the last repair, the smelly, standing water greeted me in the morning like a slap in the face.  Seemed like the dirty dishes were sad too.  There was no charge this time.  I either don't remember what the diagnosis was, or I just stopped listening.

Back when the old clunker dishwasher was still a fixture in the kitchen, our mounted over the cook top microwave's handle melted off.  Who would have thought that boiling a pot of water would cause the microwave handle to break off?  No problem.  I dug through the house papers and discovered the home warranty.  Bingo.  The guy came out.  Too bad some yo-yo mounted the microwave an insufficient distance from the stove top.  They wouldn't cover it.  Where there is a will, there is a way.  For the next two years, we kept a butter knife stationed on the counter next to the stove top.  The knife placed in the slot at just the right angle led to the pop of the microwave door.  Like magic.  Each visitor, babysitter, and friend that shared a meal with us or served a meal to the kids was briefed on how to open the microwave.  Eventually the second nature butter knife maneuver ceased to work.

We did our homework.  Shopped around.  Chose a top model of the best brand.  We even went the convection route.  I was crazy happy to be able to cook in the oven and the microwave simultaneously.  I called my mom after my first batch of cookies came out great.  Using the oven and the micro/convection, my double batch of cookies was done in no time.  Less than two years later in March, my cookie baking became a hassle.  The convection refused to heat up.  I opened the door and discovered wilting balls of dough staring back at me.  Uncooked.  Not part of the plan.  Expired warranty, of course.  The manufacturer's repair man came out and fixed the wire that was overheating.  Costly.  Two and a half weeks later, I was relying on the microwave to cook some more cookies and it failed to heat up again.  I convinced myself that it was a fluke.  I turned it off and attempted to heat it up again.  The next fix-it guy came out and showed me the mistake that the first fix-it guy had made.  He failed to expose enough of the wire when he reconnected it.  Something along those lines.  Just my luck.  No charge, just the inconvenience of having no functioning microwave for a few weeks - AGAIN.  It was increasingly difficult to schedule my new friends (aka repairmen) to come out to the house because I was working, but I managed to perfect the process again in October when the microwave went on strike again.  Seriously, I may be creative but I couldn't make this up.  This time the fix-it guy admitted that it needed a major part.  It was going to take additional manpower just to take the thing apart and rebuild it.  Trust me, I suggested just replacing the lemon with a microwave that would heat up consistently.  We endured another few weeks without a microwave while we waited for the part and the additional bodies needed to reinvent it.  Thank goodness the fridge kept clicking away, because we had leftovers galore.  My reheating abilities were limited, so the fridge reached maximum capacity.

Eventually the crew slaved away at constructing a refurbished micro right before our eyes.  I pretended not to hear the older gentlemen suggest they they should have just saved everyone the time and hassle and install a new unit.  A few times immediately following the reinstall, the microwave wouldn't heat food up at the touch of a button.  I panicked but mid-fit I realized that a good wiggle of the handle would get things fired up in no time.  Wiggling a handle sure beat having a butter knife permanently positioned on the counter top.  Oh yeah, when the unit was rebuilt the popcorn button ceased working.  I chose to let it go and program the 2 minutes on the machine to pop this popular after school snack.

Imagine my surprise when I came home the other day and heard Laddie utter the unthinkable.  Unimaginable.  "Oh yeah, did you know the microwave isn't working again?"  Sure enough.  No power.  No clock, no lights, no fan.  Nothing.  Dead.  Good thing I griped enough after the incident in the fall to get the company to agree to a new one year warranty.  I called this morning before work to schedule my next repair.  The automated voice alerted me that due to inclement weather, they would be closed today.  Why not?  Makes sense.

In the meantime, the day after Coach's birthday (November 16th) the plumber came out to replace our garbage disposal.  We dealt with the slow leak dribbling into the cabinet below it for a few weeks before I stopped denying that there was a real problem.  While the plumber was here I told him about the washing machine.  I described how I had recently lost the intense power struggle that I had been in with this appliance since late August.  It was refusing to spin the clothes despite my willingness to stand guard and gradually remove piles of dripping clothes except for a few carefully placed items so as not to overwhelm - begging it not to send me the dreaded 'unbalanced load' message after a painfully random number of spins.  The repair guy I initially contacted suggested another company would be better suited for this job.  They came out and ordered the part.  Been here, done this.  I knew the routine.  How soon can I clean my clothes without an extended spin cycle ritual  and dance?  The message he left on the answering machine after he came out to install the part (yes, I finally just started handing out the code to the garage willy nilly rather than try to find time to meet a fix-it guy at the house) needed to be replayed about six times before I completely comprehended.  I think I even called him to verify what I feared most.  "Yes lady, you just need to get yourself a new machine."  Noooooo!!!!

Once I accepted the news that my treasured washing machine was no longer going to be the most cherished member of our appliance family, I leaped into action.  I ran up to the appliance outlet store, where I shared with the salesman that my failing machine was 'fairly new'.  OK, so I was in shock.  An 8 year old machine is not considered 'fairly new' by industry standards.  Eight years ago at our first house, my washer and dryer had clonked out a few days after one another like an old married couple who can't bear to live without the other.  This all happened just days after Reggie was born.  It seemed like just yesterday that I had bolted to Sears directly after nursing my 72 hour old infant.  I recall fearing that the baby was home screaming while I was debating which machine to purchase.  I ended up going with one labeled 'canyon capacity'.  If ever anyone needed 'canyon capacity', it was me.  Besides, doesn't everyone have a mom or an aunt or an elderly neighbor who likes to brag about how her machine stood by her for 40 years?  Why can't that be my reality?  Anyway, I had a new machine bought, delivered, and dragged up the stairs in less then two hours.   This was no small feat considering the place didn't deliver on Sat. nights.  My sales guy new a guy.  I told him I would pay the $75 fee if he could get to the store and haul this thing into my house before my husband and I had to have our kids at religious education class that night at 5:00.  He made it happen.  Fourteen laundry loads later, I felt caught up.  On laundry, anyway.

Thank goodness the dryer didn't bite it along with the washer this time.  I live in fear of which appliance will be next, because they sure as hell don't make 'em like they used to! 

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