Community Opinion

The Casual Observer: Rage against the machine


Recently, I spent better part of two days disassembling my non-functioning washing machine in a frustrating attempt to troubleshoot the problem.
I did everything a madn does in home repair situations: I carefully laid out every tool I own, rubbed my chin in a thoughtful manner and mumbled about “flanges” and “spinning thingies.”
The scene was epic, not unlike a pit crew at a NASCAR event furiously trying to make essential pieces fit in time for their noble steed to finish the race and secure victory.
If I’m being truthful, it was more like having Gordon Ramsey teach kindergarten: there would be lots of swearing and crashing about and eventually someone was going to get hurt.
Despite extended bouts of profanity and squinting really hard at several of the parts, I couldn’t discern the problem.
So I went against every male instinct and arranged a service call. I’m hard-wired to fix things on my own and save money whenever possible. It’s in my DNA. My father can fix a jet engine with a toothpick and duct tape; he’s basically MacGyver.
My fingers trembled as I conceded defeat and dialed an appliance repair center. This was a dark moment for me.
A rather cheerful person answered and slowly my self-loathing began to dissipate. I supposed that I’m not the first Cro-Magon man to fail at home appliance repair.
Everything went fine until the person on the other end of the line asked me how old my machine was.
“1994,” I replied. There was a long pause.
“1994?” she repeated.
“Yes” I said with a touch of dread.
“Oh. Oh no,” she said in a tone tinged with panic. “That could be real problem.”
When she didn’t elaborate, I asked her why.
“Because, it’s so OLD,” she said.
“A lot of things come from 1994,” I responded lamely, although to be honest I couldn’t think of anything at that moment.
“Wow, that’s an OLD machine,” she said.
She was starting to annoy me, only because I think she was picturing me riding around town in my covered wagon and getting my mail by pony express while cleaning my musket.
I was afraid that instead of an appliance repair person, they’ll send me a team of archaeologists and a National Geographic camera crew.
“Can it be fixed?” I asked, hoping to steer the conversation back to my ailing appliance and away from the early 1990’s.
“I’ll have someone come look at it,” she said in a way not unlike when the doctor on a soap opera is about to tell a patient they have a rare television disease.
I hung up and began glumly putting away my tools and reassembling my ancient washing machine. Dark days lay ahead: if I wasn’t able to get it fixed, I would be forced to change my socks more than once a week.
In the end, the fix was easy and a young man – likely born after 1994 – made things right in short order. I cringed at the bill as it was roughly $5.00 for the part and ten trillion for labor, but that’s how it goes. The repair man nodded dutifully as I explained to him how I normally fix these sort of things without any help.
“It’s in good shape for such an old machine,” he said as he prepared to leave and I suppressed an eye roll at the thought of the conversation going down this road again.
Now, my vintage machine is humming happily along, the great sock crises of 2017 has been averted and I’m on to more important matters: scouring YouTube for highlights of 1994.



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