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Published:March 28th, 2011 14:00 EST
When a Clothes Dryer Fails

When a Clothes Dryer Fails

By Donna Cavanagh

I experienced a trauma that I wouldn`t wish on any other person:  my clothes dryer blew up.  It didn`t literally explode, but there was a bit of smoke, an aroma of  burning rubber, a weird, clunky noise and then -- nothing.  I knew immediately this was not a good sign   So, I called the repair company, and a sympathetic receptionist dispatched a serviceman to my location immediately.  So far, I assumed, this mishap seemed controllable.

"Thank Goodness you could be here so fast," I said to the repairman as he took apart my dryer. "I don`t know what I`d do without this thing."

"Well, Ma`am, you`re going to find out.  I have to order a part, and it will take three or four days to come in.  Your only other choice is to buy  a new dryer."

"What could be so wrong that you can`t fix it now?"

"Well, see this rubber part here, it`s torn in three pieces," he explained in carefully chosen words.  "This usually happens when someone repeatedly overloads the machine"

I knew it. He was blaming me.  I predicted this would somehow turn out to be my fault.  Immediately, a colorful list of expletives ran through my brain.  But what I said was,

"You`re sure it will be fixed in three days?"

"Four -- tops. I`ll order the part as soon as I get back to the shop. It won`t be so bad, and it`s a lot cheaper to fix the machine than to buy a new one."

After hearing such encouraging words from the repairman, I knew I could weather this storm. I told myself it would be a vacation, and that I wouldn`t do laundry for those three days. A week after the repairman`s visit, I got a call from the same sympathetic receptionist explaining that the part was on back order and was  not expected to arrive for another two weeks.

Being the ever imaginative engineer, my husband said that we could hang a line in back and dry the clothes the old-fashioned way. I thought this was funny since I knew there was no chance in hell he would take part in this old-time ritual.

"You want me to hang our underwear out in public?"
"It`s not going to be hanging from a flagpole.  It`s in our yard.  No one will notice."

I didn`t buy that for a moment.  I can`t tell you how many times I`ve driven through neighborhoods and observed the size and color of people`s underwear hanging outdoors.  Now, people were going to do the same thing to me.  I couldn`t take it.  I seriously considered going out and buying a three-week supply of new underwear, but I realized that by the time I got through that expense, I could pay for a new dryer.  There was no way out.  The public hanging had to begin.

So, I bought clothespins at a nearby dollar store.  I didn`t even know they made them anymore. My husband rigged up a line, and each morning for two weeks, I hung out clothes.  I felt like a pioneer woman hanging out my clothes in the crisp, prairie wind.  Okay, so my imagination may have wandered a bit, but it got me through this episode. Then the strangest thing happened.  I discovered fabric softener, and my sheets had this great feel to them, and I became hooked on this whole process of air drying!

Hanging out the clothes was like meditation for me. It was peaceful; it was wonderful -- until the thunderstorms hit, and I wasn`t at home to bring in my spring-fresh wardrobe from outside. I can`t tell you how embarrassing it was to stumble into my neighbor`s yard to claim my bras which flew across the fence thanks to the overpowering force of Mother Nature and the cheap clothespins from the dollar store.

That one incident was enough to snap me out of my domestic bliss. From then on, I vowed that I would hang my clothes across my living room before I would hang them outside again. Luckily, the day after the rain incident, I got the call I was waiting for.  My dryer part was in.  Within minutes, the repairman was at my house hooking up my much-missed appliance.

That night, as I sat in the family room sipping a glass of wine and listening to the melodic hum of my dryer emanating from the laundry room, I felt a sense of calm.  I still don`t understand it.  I have lived without a dishwasher and not cared at all.  And I know I could live without a television set or a microwave.  But touch any appliance that eases the chore of laundry, and it`s nothing short of torture.  Well, that`s not true.  If anyone would like to take my iron and hide it so I never, ever have to press any clothes again, feel free. I think I can live with wrinkles and if not, that`s why the universe gave us dry cleaners.