The universe recently said to me, I see you, feeling like you’re broken down and not going anywhere, and raise you your apartment, which is better than you at both those things. Not only is it crumbling to dust, but also it physically can’t move from where it stands and will continue to lower the living standards of the next 10 generations of unsuspecting college students.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, though, I recognize that the state of my apartment has made me appreciate conditions I take for granted. As they say, you can never appreciate the sound of silence until you’ve submitted five noise complaints about the jackhammering between 1-5AM outside your window only to hear from another resident that the construction project has a noise permit and is above the law. Or, you can never truly value cleanliness until your washing machine breaks and you socially obligate your more put-together friends to let you leech off their machine before you run out of underwear.
Last week, in desperate need to simulate a fresh start in life, I tried to do my laundry. I dragged my overflowing hamper into the hall, stuffed two load’s worth of clothes into the washing machine, poured in detergent, and started a 30-minute cycle. The water started flowing, and I prepared for bed.
In what seemed like two minutes, the washing machine beeped its completion. The incongruity registered in the back of my mind, but I finished brushing my teeth before transferring clothes to the dryer. Most of the clothes were dry. And dirty.
I stuck them back in the washing machine, wondering if I’d just put too large a load inside. The water started flowing, but this time I noticed that the washing machine wasn’t spinning at all. The knob was rotating around more quickly than I’d ever seen.
The washing machine beeped again, and the clothes were still dirty, just wetter.
Me, texting TDM: Do you have a washer
TDM: Like the round metal thing?
It was a little over 24 hours before I had to fly out to LA, and I very well couldn’t leave my smelly laundry with my roommate for four days. I also wasn’t strong enough to carry three sopping bags of clothes several blocks at night, so my roommate drove us to a friend’s apartment. This friend had a functioning washing machine but other problems to worry about, namely a heater that was set on 56°F. Our visit derailed her night, probably, but we did adjust her heater and edit her report for class–back to our roots with the barter system.
Five business days that debacle and after maintenance had said they’d bring new parts in 3-5 business days for the machine, I emailed a reminder. Someone came in the next morning—which we only noticed because everything standing on the sink was knocked over when we returned in the afternoon—so I put in my laundry.
The water started flowing. The washing machine refused to spin.
I sent another assertive email, by which I mean I replaced all my exclamation points with periods, and was told new parts would require another 3-5 business days. I asked my neighbor if she was available this time and spent an hour in her place wondering if I’d be blacklisted from the premises for having broken her washing machine.
Neighbor: So it’s kind of finnicky. You have to press START until the light stops blinking.
I pressed and held START, and she returned to the kitchen, where she was cooking. The washing machine started to spin. Then stopped. I continued to hold.
Nothing happened for five minutes. I let go, turned it off, then tried again. Same thing. I tried holding for longer, playing with buttons, holding for less time, not pressing anything. Still, nothing happened.
Ten minutes later
Me: I need help.
Neighbor: You just gotta hold it until the lights stop blinking.
Me, like I hadn’t tried that: Oh.
I returned and continued trying.
Twenty minutes later
Neighbor: Did it work?
Defeated, I let go. She opened her mouth to say something.
And then the machine started to spin. And spin, and spin.
Neighbor: Yeah, I just try different things and it works.
I’d thought for sure that I’d brought a generational curse into her household, so I just smiled and nodded at this much more preferable outcome. Half an hour later, I stopped the cycle because she had a meeting to go to and we had another scare when the washing machine door refused to budge. Eventually it came open, but all this just goes to show that you never know the state of other people’s home appliances until you actually enter their homes.
The more I write, the more that sounds like a metaphor, but really I may just be making the point that something in everyone’s life is breaking down and you only know about the crumbly parts of yours.
Okay, so maybe that part also sounded like a metaphor. Anyway, my landlord sent me an email the next day asking us for pictures of the washing machine because he’d been told it had to be replaced.
Roommate: Why were we not informed of this?
I’m sure there’s a lesson to this, but I’m sure it’ll come to me when the new parts for my tired brain arrive in 3 to 5 business days.
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