My seven-year-old washing machine went kaput. So I found myself inside a home improvement center, staring helplessly, which is how I typically appear in these mega-stores. Apparently, while I hadn’t been paying close attention, washing machines had grown more sophisticated. When I’d made my last purchase, there’d been no more than a half dozen manufacturers’ models—ranging from bachelor- to Brady Bunch-capacity levels—to choose from. No complex analysis had been required.
Back then, dryers came in two versions: electric and gas. And it really didn’t make much difference which one you selected. Similar to a choice between being struck in the head with a bowling ball or a brick, you could pretty much bet that, when it came to shelling out dough for the utility bills, either one was going to hurt.
But given all the new innovations in laundry technology, now when I shop I’m confronted with rows and rows of metal boxes—some of which look like they’ve been snatched right out of a commercial Laundromat.
It seems that the laundry room, that last bastion of simplicity, has been mucked up by someone who thought consumers needed more cleaning options. So today we have machines in designer colors with special coatings, washers and dryers with auto-like features that include tinted windows. Before you know it, these appliances will be offered with built-in satellite radio tuners and cup holders.
I can’t fathom the reasoning. Why would tinted glass be beneficial? Does underwear require that much privacy? Do I really need to see what’s going on inside my washer and dryer? Sure, socks are prone to disappear in the wash, but who wants to monitor the process that closely? Given the chance, footwear will mate with sheet pockets regardless of who’s watching.
But I’ve gone off on a tangent to get to a point that I never quite intersected. So I’ll return to the store aisle.
There I was, gazing at one of those new-fangled top-loading washers, when a salesman approached.
“These puppies are really something,” the clerk said, giving the unit a slap with his hand. Then he patted the matching dryer and added, “And this will steam clean your clothes so that they come out looking per-fect.”
I glanced at the price tag that, I swear to Clorox, included a comma.
“This washer will spin your clothes so fast they’ll need a lot less time to dry,” the appliance guy said.
“Oh, I have my own method for that,” I replied. “I usually forget the wash overnight. And by the next morning, the clothes are already half-dry!”
He gave me a puzzled look. “But these dryers are more energy efficient than the older models. And there’s this pedestal that you can put them on, too, so you don’t have to bend over so far to load them.”
“Seems like they could have just made them the right height to begin with,” I observed.
The salesman said he had to answer a call.
By the time he’d returned, I’d made my decision. “I’ll take this top-load pair,” I said, pointing to a standard variety washing machine.
“Oh, these are more energy efficient than the older ones, also,” admitted the eager dealmaker. “It’s just that they’re not as efficient as those over there.” He motioned toward the equipment that sported the price tags with commas.
If I hadn’t felt so bad for the guy I might have pointed out that the most energy efficient clothes dryer wasn’t even in his department. It was on the rope aisle, and it sold for less than $20. In my parents’ day, it was called a clothesline.
Coming soon! Deedee Divine’s Totally Skewed Guide to Life