The Stupid Saga

of my washer/dryer

The urge to enwomb all my whinging in disclaimer (first-world problems!) is so played-out, I’m just not gonna do it. People are sick and dying, and more things are horrible than they are good, and so to deal with all that and make my privilege even more overt than it already is, I am going to tell you about my washer-dryer set and the ignominy of spending a ton of emotional energy on an appliance instead of on world peace.

So, I want you picture a small bathroom and in this bathroom a washer-dryer with maybe an inch clearance on one side—the very side on which is the vent hole. The vent hole in the wall. The vent on the unit is in the back, which means whoever supplied the apartment with these units is a dufus and maybe even an arsonist. The venting is near impossible. It is clogged with lint and every time I use the dryer, I think of a) Robert De Niro, whose New York City apartment blew up thanks to a dryer fire and b) how I’m not Robert De Niro (an observation that comes with mixed feelings).

Recently, I decided I had to replace my washer-dryer. And so my saga begins. To start: There are no vented gas dryers that will fit my space and vent from the side. There are not enough YouTube videos in the world to teach me how to manually reconfigure a gas dryer to vent from the side. There are a few electric dryers, but they require a different voltage setup from what I have. Which would mean having to pay someone to remove the old units, hire an electrician to install a new fuse, and then pay for the installation of the new units. Except a new fuse means having to break down walls to thread the wires or to just expose the wires because that’s a great look. (All of this took me about 2 months to figure out, btw). Finally I find a combo that is electric, ventless, small enough to fit, and able to use my current electrical setup. Hooray! Except there is a catch.

My wall plate is vertical. Like this:

But I’m told the plugs for the unit look like this:

Do you see the problem here? You can’t stack them one atop the other. Do you get how incredibly stupid a problem this is to have? I could not believe I am getting foiled by a problem like this.

I call a few electricians. I have with them inscrutable conversations in which the language I use to describe things—outlets, amps, fuses, volts—is, apparently, not the right language at all. Can any of them help? No.

So: I call the manufacturer of my dream units (which, btw, are stupidly expensive and an affront to my budget, which is where my mom comes in, OMG). Anyway, I call the sales team. I ask if the plugs are really flat. A woman assures me they are not flat. No way. In fact, she gets so worked up, she stakes her 40-year career selling these babies on it and gives me the number of the engineering team that makes them. She is huffy and passionate and so persuasive, I almost do not call the engineers. But I want them to back up this lady, so I call. Are the plugs flat, I ask, and by now my voice is trembling because sweet Jesus, please make this woman’s 40 years matter. The guy says: Sorry, the plugs are flat and I’m screwed.

My daughter writes me a note that says: I know you are frushtated about the dryer.

A few days pass. But I cannot take no for an answer. I am Vito Corleone; I’m gonna get what I want. So I start downloading installation brochures for the units and scrutinizing the diagrams. I learn nothing. I make more phone calls and am told by various experts that the plugs are flat and that the plugs are not flat. With all the time I am spending on this, are you wondering how I keep my job?

Finally, I decide it’s time for action. I have barely left the house in months. I have taken every Covid precaution. But for a freaking washer-dryer, I am going to the AJ Madison showroom, where I will look at the plugs myself.

Have you ever been? When I get there, of course it’s deserted. The woman at the front desk has no idea what I’m doing there and is passing all kind of judgement. But who cares, I’m headed for the holy grail of knowledge and am not even segued by how dreamy the showroom is—lookit all the shiny things! I take the stairs by two (I am winded right away) but I can see what I want from a distance and then the distance closes and I’m panting into my mask with joy and there’s a problem. All the units are pushed up against a wall, and crammed against this wall sardine-style. I cannot access the plugs.

A Hasidic guy is my salesman. I ask him about the plugs and he shrugs. I tell him I need to see the plugs and he says no can do, there’s no one to move the units.

Crest, fallen.

I’m about to go home and down in flames—possibly literally—when I turn around and lock eyes with the unit and because there’s no romance in my life, I channel all my unspent longing into a Nicholas Sparks-type pivot and race back to the unit adjacent the one I want, which I immediately mount because I am not leaving without getting eyes on the plug.

The Hasidic salesman, Mayer is his name, can distantly be heard saying, “Ma’am? MA’AM?” But I am beyond reach. I turn on the flashlight on my phone and wedge on in there and guess what I see?

Long live the angle. Did Mayer think I was nuts for how hard I laughed? I’m gonna go with yes.

About a week later, the delivery guys show up. One of them is really sweaty and wearing his mask below his nose. The mask is soaked. I offer him a fresh one and ask if he wouldn’t mind covering up. He is nonplussed. He is also nonplussed about me asking for five minutes to quickly seal up the vent hole (I’d bought expanding foam for this very purpose) or about me, uh, asking if he’ll close off the gas line with the cap I also bought. Then he tries to tell me the units won’t fit because the plugs are flat.

These days, I wash and dry our clothes with ridiculous pleasure. Only I’m too scared to try to run the units at the same time because there is still the unresolved question of whether the circuit can handle both.

Folks: some of you are already paid subscribers (yay!). I’m wondering if any of the rest of you might be willing to jump on board here. It’s $7 a month. I guess at some point, I’m gonna put up a paywall and dangle stuff to entice you. Except I don’t have any stuff. What I have is what you read.