That Maytag repairman from the old TV ads who never saw anyone because the machines so seldom needed repairs? If he were still around, he’d probably be lonelier than ever.
Not because washers are even more reliable than they used to be (though having just bought a new one, I certainly hope that’s the case). But because repairing today’s washers means knowing as much about electronics and computers as about plumbing and pipe wrenches. And, let’s face it, while the lonely repairman seemed like a really nice guy, he didn’t exactly appear to be a tech wizard.
Our new washer, only one step above the low-end model, is about as basic as washers get these days. Even so, I’m sure it has more computing technology than NASA did when it was sending men to the moon. It’s a very smart washer. And that’s not all. It has opinions. It is strongly committed to preserving the environment, and it is very safety-conscious.
It’s so smart that it doesn’t need me to tell it how big a given load is. In fact, it won’t even allow me to choose “small” or “normal” or “large.” Nope. The machine senses the size of the load and fills itself to the appropriate level and not one teaspoon more, thereby conserving water much more effectively than I, a mere human, could be trusted to do. Presumably, if I put in a load consisting of one washcloth and a pair of socks, the washer would go ahead and run a cycle, using about two and a half cups of water. It would, however, save energy by rinsing them with cold water. Like all new environmentally aware washers, it is not allowed to use warm or hot water in its rinse cycles.
It’s so safety-conscious that it automatically locks the lid as soon as it starts its cycle. According to the salesman at Sears, all washers now are required to do this. Presumably this is to protect me just in case I should start a load of clothes and suddenly realize I left my cell phone in the pocket of my jeans. The washer is afraid I might dash down the stairs, yank open the lid, and plunge both hands into the water before the agitator has stopped spinning, thereby breaking both my arms and leaving myself unable to use my cell phone for six weeks. Which wouldn’t matter all that much, since the phone would have been ruined by then anyway.
While all this is impressive, even intimidating, what I’d really like is a washer so smart it did everything. I would dump all the dirty clothes in a big pile in the middle of the laundry room. The washer would sort them, load them, wash them, put them in the dryer, take them out, and fold them. It would even remember that I fold towels the long way and that I fold my jeans in thirds rather than fourths so they fit in the dresser.
Wouldn’t it be great to have the machine do all that work? This one, unfortunately, doesn’t.
Come to think of it, maybe this washer is even smarter than I thought.