In late September the week’s challenge (par for the course this year!) was: what do you do when your washing machine won’t spin out and drain? Glad it wasn’t my clothes! My dear husband had to drag his sodden clothes to the bathroom to rinse them by hand and ring them out - then they went in the dryer!

SO - ever the enterprising one - I assumed that this might be a problem I could fix. After all, didn’t I recently replace a broken switch on my also-old gas dryer and that works fine now?

On youtube I picked up a great how-to video. It looked like the identical washing machine to mine! I checked with my trusty appliance parts store (A-1 Appliance - in business in Fort Lauderdale since 1965 - love that!) and they had the switch I needed if that was the problem. They also told me my model of washing machine was “The best one ever made, don’t replace it if you don’t have to”!

However, my biggest problem arose because our washing machine and dryer are in a VERY confined space - just wide enough for each of them but not much room for manouevring; machine or human body! The video was made in an enormous space - probably an empty garage or similar - so when the voiceover said “the framework of the machine can then be removed” I was stumped!

I’d laid out all the parts on a paper towel as I removed them, as per instructions and replayed the video (back and forth to the computer!) a few times as I went. I also labeled each set of screws and clips and taped them to the paper towel. What I then discovered in my particular situation was that all the work would be done by what I call ‘the braille method’ - I had no visuals on any of the parts, the framework simply couldn’t be removed, I could just slightly tilt it to allow more for one hand to reach the parts!

Having reached the stage of removing the old switch I felt able to go and buy the new one: $35. I didn’t charge me for my labour!

Earlier that morning I’d bailed out the now-smelly water in the washing machine - just in case an odd screw fell inside the drum! I had to bail ½ gallon at a time since that was the only container that fitted in the drum. Tedious, and stinky too.

Without losing any screws I reached the final stage of reinstalling the ground wire - essential for safe operation (!) and getting the wire tube inside the ornery clip - I found a bicycle tyre iron to use for leverage. The next part seemed easy, just screw in the actual switch through the top of the washing machine - stumped again! The screws didn’t go in as easily as they came out of the broken part!

But eventually they did and I waited for my trusty son to arrive to check my work and to finish it off if necessary…to great acclaim, he was proud of my work!

So, here’s my commentary: yes these projects are ‘easy’ on a scale of 1 - 10. However when the physical space isn’t as depicted in the video it becomes a monumental task that must all be done ‘in the dark’. Of course no engineer or mechanic ever envisions anyone having other than their perfect location/scenario for what they design!

I have the same problems with designers of cars - I am shorter than average so seats, knee space, back support, angle/ease of reaching for seat belts, visuals on the dash board, aren’t built with me in mind! Except for my beloved 1973 VW bug of course - perfect in all ways for short people like me!

Which always brings me back to my usual rants (because I can, and I must) on: early childhood care. (I see parallels to my work in every facet of life.)

In nearly every expert’s opinion continuity of care and one loving adult to care for a baby is the ideal scenario for the optimum development of a child - just like repairing a washing machine in a wide open garage is the ideal scenario. With the advent of daycare for nearly all babies that ideal type of care rarely happens and yet no one makes a connection between the behaviours of children growing less than optimally/special needs/on any spectrum, in their earliest months of care and the number of different carers they’ve had between birth and three years of age. Just like my washing machine repair video, the ‘expert’ couldn’t even entertain the fact that my circumstances could be challenging and might not be ideal, and think of providing me with an alternative option - because he’d probably only worked in an ideal situation. Most situations are not the engineered or researched ideal.

I constantly wonder why? Money is usually my answer. ‘Experts’ at all levels want to protect their financial positions - designing their products based on their own idea of what works and is financially do-able; teaching, tutoring, writing books and text books (which usually cost between $50 and $100 each - who working in early childhood care can afford those as reference books?), treating clients and speaking at conferences etc. And owners of daycares and makers of appliances need to make money.

Need I say more?