Dictators and washing machines

The reach of the political left can find its way into unexpected places and impose its will in surprising ways.  Even the ordinary washing machine has not escaped.  

About three years ago or so, my wife and I replaced our aging but usually trusty washer for a brand-new, up-to-date, modern version.  I had assumed that the new machine would be quieter than the old, which it was, and more convenient, which it was not — not by a long shot.  Too late, I regretted my mistake.  

You see, the old noisy one was simple to operate.  You adjusted three knobs for temperature, size, and fabric (heavy, delicate, or medium) and that was about it.  Push start, and come back to a clean load of laundry when the spin cycle ends.  

The new, high-tech version was a silent wonder of modern technology, but the technology did nothing for the human user.  It was designed to conserve water and energy, presumably to save the planet.  It had sensors, to measure the load, and electronics to calibrate how much water and power to use.  

All that would have been commendable but for two other factors.  First, the sensing features were maddeningly slow.  They took so long that I would be on the verge of thinking the machine was never going to start.  It did this before and after each procedure (wash, rinse, spin) as well, stopping for no apparent reason between each, before finally, at long last, starting up again.  Second, the lid would lock.  It would lock me, the owner, out of my own washing machine that I had paid for.  It was for my own protection, of course.  I am too stupid to avoid sticking my head into an agitating or spinning tub.  I don't know how I ever survived the death trap of my old machine for so many years.  

If I decided that I needed to intervene while the lid was locked, for example, to throw in an additional sock, the machine obligingly allowed me to do that — but it would unlock the lid only when it — not I, it — was good and ready, once again, delaying for maddeningly long times, for no apparent reason.  Was it taunting me?  Was it reminding me who is boss?  

Clever me, I discovered a way to circumvent the lid lock feature, by simply unscrewing the magnetic prong from the lid, and inserting it into the lower part of the lock.  For three years, this made tolerable the annoying safety and conservation features of the machine, and once again, I somehow survived the spin of death.  

After three years, however, the new machine's suspension rods wore out, and when out of balance, the machine would not automatically stop.  Yes, the one safety feature I really needed did not work.  Okay, I decided, I will replace the springs and rods, but the parts needed to make the repair were expensive, and not economically worthwhile. 

Reluctantly, we bought yet another machine.  The price had more than doubled, and the manufacturer had figured out how to prevent me from readily circumventing the lid lock (on my own machine!).  Worse yet, I could not easily pause the machine for that extra sock; when I did, the machine started all over from the beginning of the cycle, instead of promptly resuming from where it had left off.  More assertion of its authority?  

There were other problems as well, but by this time you get the idea.  On the very first day, we returned the newest machine for a refund.  We had decided to use the laundromat instead.  At our age, it would be cheaper than buying another modern marvel in three years, which seems to be its lifespan.

Rescue came in the form of a used washer.  We bought it for about a quarter of the cost of a new one.  It is an old model, one with no lid lock, no lethargic sensors, and only a few annoyances that are negligible compared to the new machines.  It is more convenient than the laundromat.  It allows me to be in charge, imagine that, and trusts me to make the important decisions, such as when to start and stop and how much water to use.  The only worry I have with it is the risk of death, but what the heck — I am throwing caution to the wind.  I just hope I don't destroy the environment.  

Okay, you say, what is all this hyperbole about washing machine dictatorship?  Maybe I am just a Luddite who cannot operate a simple washer.   You ask, what's all this ranting about washing machines?  What does all this have to do with dictators?  

It will all come out in the wash.

Image via Pxfuel.

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