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OPINION: Lessons learned from the washing machine

It seemed simple enough. Recently we found ourselves in need of a new washing machine. After a time, I heard a weird noise, which brought me back downstairs.

It seemed simple enough.

Recently we found ourselves in need of a new washing machine.

I had put a load of clothes into the washer in the basement and headed upstairs. After a time, I heard a weird noise, which brought me back downstairs. The washer was making a thunking sound, and I heard something that sounded a lot like metal scraping against metal.

My husband came down to listen to the washer, too. We took turns putting an ear against the washing machine.

There was some debate about trying to take the washer apart (probably not a great idea), the question of when we purchased it (neither of us could recall) and where the original receipt was. Our file seemed to have receipts for every other appliance we had ever bought, including the juicer we only used twice, but no receipt for the washer.

We decided it would probably be best, both time-wise, cost-wise and frustration-wise, to just get a brand new washer.

So off we went to our neighborhood appliance store.

Clearly, washing machines had changed a lot over the years. Quite a few of them were digital with push buttons. The helpful salesman even pointed out one model that somehow involved using my cell phone to operate it. While I am sure someone else will appreciate that model, I am not that tech-savvy.

The old washer we had been using for years was pretty simple, with knobs for the various settings. The only thing we really wanted other than that was larger washing space so that we could wash bigger items, including the monstrous comforter that we always had to take to the drycleaners because it was way too big for the washer,

We ultimately decided to get a little more up-to-date, and purchased an in-stock model with push buttons and a digital window. It did not have the knobs we had hoped for, but it did have the extra washing space we really wanted, and it looked relatively simple, compared to some others we had considered.

Once we got home, set up the washer and figured out some basic settings, I soon realized that I wasn’t really in charge of the washing anymore.

The washer informed me exactly how long the washing would take, controlled how long I had to add any extra garments before its lid locked, and told me when I was supposed to sanitize the washing machine. I discovered the sanitizing feature after not hearing the spin cycle and thinking the washing was taking an extra long time one day. I arrived downstairs to see nothing washed and a message in the little digital window telling me it was time to sanitize the washer. I still don’t know exactly how I overrode the washer’s order and got the message off the little screen. I just pressed a bunch of buttons until the machine started washing.

Now that some time has gone by, I’m happy to report that while I still have lots to learn, I am pleased with the machine, and the washing is going well. My husband and I hardly ever have to refer to the handwritten steps we taped on the wall next to the washer, one of which includes remembering to put the washing detergent into the little washing detergent drawer.

Apart from the power and start settings, there are, by my calculation, 23 different option buttons to press. So far, I only use three of them.

Still, I have discovered that sometimes it’s good to stretch ourselves a little, even with something as simple (or not so simple) as a new washing machine.

We did get a nice little printed manual with the washer that I admit I have never fully read. I’m thinking of getting up extra early one morning to learn more about the features I haven’t used yet.

I’ll make a nice pot of coffee and settle in to read that whole manual.

But first, I’ll have to figure out how to use that new digital coffee maker we got.

Thanks to our washing machine adventures, I think I’m up to the challenge.

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