We lost a trusted family friend last week. After years of faithful service, it was time to pull the plug and move on. Too much sentiment in these cases always leads to more regrets and a wavering resolve when it comes time to do the right thing. I got tired of having to run around with a towel, cleaning up all those little wet messes. We could have spent a lot of money and time trying to get a few more quality weeks together, but what's the point, really? Sometimes it's best just to close the book on one and pick up another: younger, faster, stronger. I will miss our old washing machine.
I can't get too sentimental about an appliance, even a major one, since I am notoriously hard on tools. It set me to thinking about the life span of the machinery in our home. The guy who came out to look at our old washer gave us a tip or two about how we might be able to get a few more spins out of the old girl before we sent her to the retirement community, but the bottom line was that we had reached the end of the line with this one: planned obsolescence. I thought about the computers we have moved into and out of over the past eighteen years. I thought about the dishwasher that used to roll around our first apartment that eventually got replaced by a larger "family model" once we started to sterilize baby bottles and pacifiers. And then there was the washing machine that was here when we moved into this house.
Originally, it lived at the back of the house, and when it hit the spin cycle it was like the Orange Blossom Special was roaring by outside our window. One of our earliest household projects was to pour a concrete slab in our basement where the thundering beast would be out of our immediate earshot. It served us dutifully through all the diapers and blankets and baby clothes, asking only the occasional sock or two in payment, until one day it just stopped. It filled with water and soap and then just gave up.
That was nine years ago. We went out and found ourselves a deal on an Energy Star front-loading Kenmore that was every bit as dependable as its predecessor, doing all the things we asked of it and more. Then, last week when I went downstairs to check on it, there was a puddle forming at the back, where I noticed that rust had begun to form. How long had this been going on? Had I become so insensitive to the needs of my appliances that I had cavalierly ignored its cries for help? My wife called the repair man, but it was too late.
Now there is a stranger in our basement. One that I have to read up on to be able to use correctly. It has more buttons and lights than the other two had combined. It is a new technology, and as Arthur C. Clarke would remind me, it is magic. I don't doubt that one day it will be welcomed into the family like a trusted friend, but for now I am still coping with the loss of one now departed.