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?