Saturday, 26 December 2015

If the washing machine conks out at Christmas?

You know in the bigger scheme of things it's not a big deal, frankly. Especially at Christmas when a lot of people are doing it tough because of isolation and loneliness. So when the washing machine conked out on Christmas Day I decided to act.

There were no outward signs the machine was going to stop working. I had put on a load of laundry and set it to go as usual but then almost immediately it gave me an error code I didn't understand. I took out the dirty clothes and set the control to 'drain' and got the dirty water out of the machine. Then I put the clothes back in and reset it to run, then watched it go. The same thing happened as the previous time, but this time because I was standing close to the machine I could see that the drum would not turn. I could also hear a rasping sound as though something that was designed to engage was not doing so.

I got my mobile phone and called the repair company number on the sticker on the front of the machine. After listening to their message saying they were out of the office, I punched my call through to the message line to tell their repair department about my broken machine. I left my name, locality, type of machine and phone number, then rang off.

Then I thought about options, because here I was with a load of dirty laundry that had to be attended to regardless of the state of the washing machine. I had a morning tea date the next morning (this morning in fact) and then I had a lunch date on the Sunday. I thought about calling one of these people and asking if I would be able to bring a load of dirty laundry to their place, and wash it in their machine. I wondered how each of them would react to such a suggestion. One of the people is a close relative and the other party is an old friend. But I still thought despite the proximity that it might be something that to them would cause feelings of a certain degree of revulsion. Something else had to be done about this pile of dirty laundry.

To cut things short I went out to the Christmas lunch date I had already organised some weeks beforehand. But when I got home I was drunk and went straight to bed. I woke up around 9pm, ate some of the supermarket roast chicken I had bought the day before, and sat down at the computer. The laundry was still in the basket, waiting to be looked after like a grumbling child. Eventually I bit the bullet and took it to the bathroom. I filled the bathtub with hot water, added to the wet clothes the normal amount of washing liquid, and stirred the dirty clothes around.

To hurry up the cleaning process I did something else as well. I took hold of the items of clothing one by one and lifted them into the air, then rammed them back down into the (by-now) dirty water. I did this kind of "rock-bashing" that I had seen women in third-world countries do, several times for each large item of clothing. There were shirts, a pair of trousers, underwear, and socks. And a towel. Then I removed the items of clothing from the water, wrung each one dry with my hands, and put it in the laundry basket.

I then drained the bath of dirty warm water and filled it with clean cold water and put the clothes back in. I repeated the improvised "rock-bashing" manouevre this time with the cold water. I noticed that the water did not markedly change colour this time, so I assumed that meant the dirt had all (or mostly) been removed from the clothes. Then I repeated the removing-from-the-water and hand-wringing, and drained away the cold water from the tub. I took the clothes into the kitchen and started the first load of drying. When I got up this morning the clothes were still wet, so I assumed that the normal spin cycle in the machine - which is designed to get most of the moisture out of the clothes inside it - had not effectively been replicated by my hand-wringing.

Hopefully the broken machine will either be fixed by the time the next load of laundry comes due to be looked after, or else I will have bought a new machine. Doing the clothes in this way was not terribly onerous but it's not the sort of thing you would actively go out and ask to do, unless you were a bit daft in the head.

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