There have been a few times in the last six months or so when I’ve loaded up the washing machine with clothing and have later walked past the laundry area (it’s sort of a closet off of the kitchen) and stepped in some water.
This is bad, because I never wear shoes in the house and it makes my sock all soppy. Oh, I guess it’s also bad because it would appear that the washing machine has a leak. EXCEPT! Except it doesn’t always do it. And it’s never a HUGE amount of water. Just every now and then—just often enough to drive a sane person crazy, what with the wondering if THIS TIME, IS IT REALLY BROKEN? or will it stop again?—there is some water.
Me, despite being incredibly cautious in nearly all ways, I am relatively unbothered by this phenomenon because it happens so rarely. Most of the time, the washer works and doesn’t leak. How serious could it be? Whatever. Otto, however, is not so lucky.
I’d actually forgotten that we’d had this problem, because it had been so long since it last happened, when we returned from vacation and Otto put some laundry in the next morning.
I promptly walked through the kitchen and stepped in a large puddle.
Otto immediately started wiping up the water and inspecting the washer. He reached around the back of it and felt for moisture all along the back of the machine, along the wall where the pipes go, and then after mopping up he was down on his belly on the floor with his headlamp on (sexy!) looking underneath. Otto’s a pretty handy guy, but he couldn’t figure out where the water was coming from.
My response: Oh well.
His response: DAMMIT! THAT’S IT! I’M CALLING SEARS!
I may have even argued with him. Dude, c’mon. It only leaks sometimes. Murphy’s Law dictates that Sears will come out here with their mandatory service call charge and not even be able to make it leak. It’s not a big deal. Why spend the money?
Otto was not to be dissuaded. And in fairness, he rarely feels so strongly about something that he INSISTS, and I had to admit that my cavalier attitude might be asking for trouble, so he called Sears to schedule a service call.
We’ve done four loads of laundry since then. No leaking. Of course. I complained several times that we were going to end up paying $65 for nothing.
Yesterday morning a service tech from Sears showed up on my doorstep. As it happened, he arrived when I was on the phone with someone I’ve been trying to reach for a week. So I did that THING which I know is terribly rude and obnoxious (but I didn’t know what else to do!) where I answered the door while on the phone, asked the person on the phone to hold on a sec, said hello to the service tech and said “I’ll be off in just a sec, the washer’s this way”), led him to the machine, and went to finish my call. I felt like an asshole (“Hello, lowly servant. Allow me to finish my important business before speaking to you.”) but there you have it.
ANYWAY. Once I got off the phone I rushed back into the kitchen.
Me: I’m SO sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude, I just had to finish that call, I’ve been trying to reach him for weeks. Let me start again. Hi! I’m Mir!
Him: *shaking my outstretched hand* Well hello, ma’am, my name is Amos, and I’m from Sears. It is certainly my pleasure to meet you.
Amos was an older gentleman with a thick southern accent and a peppiness about him that made me want another cup of coffee or twelve. He sounded SO HAPPY to be here in my kitchen looking at my washing machine. Now that’s job dedication, right there.
Amos: Now, ma’am, Mrs. Otto, what seems to be the trouble with the machine?
Me: Well, sometimes when we do laundry we end up with water on the floor. But only sometimes. And not that much water.
Amos: Mmmmhmmm, mmmhmmm, I see, mmmhmmm, alrighty then Mrs. Otto, what I am going to be doing here, Mrs. Otto, is I am going to remove the entire case and have a look then, Mrs. Otto. We’ll see if we can’t find the problem.
Me: Great! If you need me, I’ll be right through there in my office.
Amos: Yes ma’am, Mrs. Otto, that’d be just fine, just fine, Mrs. Otto. Thank you very kindly.
I truly WISH I was exaggerating, but I am not. Amos was not only VERY EXCITED to be here with my possessed washing machine, he was so overly polite as to be a real live caricature. It would’ve irritated the snot out of me except that he did seem very kind and genuine. Still, every time he called me “Mrs. Otto” I found myself mentally counting them off.
So he banged around for a while and then called to me.
Amos: Mrs. Otto, ma’am? (one)
Amos: Mrs. Otto, could you please come and have a look at what I’m doing, Mrs. Otto? (three)
Me: Sure. What’s up?
Amos: Well, Mrs. Otto, ma’am, (four) what I have done here, Mrs. Otto, (five) is I have completely removed the casing and checked for any dampness, Mrs. Otto, (six) and I didn’t find a thing, and so now I am filling the drum with water as you can see, Mrs. Otto, (seven) and there is no water leaking anywhere.
Me: Murphy’s Law.
Me: I told my husband that if we called for a repair it wouldn’t leak.
Amos: Well, Mrs. Otto, (eight) I am surely going to try to find the problem, Mrs. Otto, (nine) but if I cannot replicate the problem I cannot fix it, Mrs. Otto, (ten!) I tell you truly, I’m a very honest man, Mrs. Otto, (eleven) and I will not tell you I’ve found the problem if I haven’t, no ma’am Mrs. Otto (twelve), because that wouldn’t be honest or right.
Me: Well I appreciate that, Amos. You take your time and see what you find.
Amos: Yes ma’am, Mrs. Otto (thirteen), I surely will. Thank you!
He banged around for a while longer and then called me back again.
Amos: Now, ma’am, Mrs. Otto (I had to stop counting; it was making my head hurt), I have an important question for you which I need you to consider carefully, please, Mrs. Otto, before answering. When you have this water on the floor, Mrs. Otto, is it soapy water?
Me: Nope. It’s always clear.
Amos: Mmmmhmmm, mmmhmmm, I see, mmmhmmm, yes ma’am Mrs. Otto, well then, I do have a GUESS as to the problem, but Mrs. Otto, please understand that I cannot CONFIRM this, and I will continue checking ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING, Mrs. Otto, but I have been doing this, thank the good Lord, for 35 years now Mrs. Otto, and I do believe I may have an idea of what might be happening, Mrs. Otto.
Me: Great! What is it?
Amos: Well, ma’am, are you often washing very full loads?
Me: Hmmm. Yes, I think probably we are.
Amos: Mmmmhmmmm, mmmmhmmmm, that’s just as I suspected, Mrs. Otto. Come please have a look at this, Mrs. Otto. Do you see here, Mrs. Otto, how this drum tilts inside the casing? Yes, of course you do, Mrs. Otto, I can see that you are a bright woman Mrs. Otto! Well, fill this up too full, and the drum can tilt forward like this, Mrs. Otto, and then do you see where the water comes in here, Mrs. Otto? That can end up splashing BEHIND the drum, Mrs. Otto, like this, and then the water would go down here and underneath, Mrs. Otto, and you’d have water on the floor.
Amos: Do you see, Mrs. Otto? I cannot say for CERTAIN that that’s your problem, but given that I cannot find any other problem, Mrs. Otto, that would be my guess.
Me: So… the washer is fine?
Amos: Yes ma’am, Mrs. Otto, I do believe it is.
Me: And we are stupid?
Amos: Oh no MA’AM, Mrs. Otto! It’s a very common problem there, and you would just need to pay a bit more attention, and maybe not do such large loads, if indeed that’s the issue Mrs. Otto.
I was then treated to a long speech about how rightly he should charge me $85 for “unable to diagnose” but instead he would just charge me the $65 service charge because God doesn’t want him to make things more difficult for people, and should the problem persist I have 30 days to have him come back out free of charge, and before he left could he just say a few kind words, please, Mrs. Otto, and then he said something that sounded suspiciously like a PRAYER, and ended with:
Amos: I thank you very much, ma’am, Mrs. Otto, for the opportunity to serve you. Once again, my name is Amos.
Me: Oh, Amos, I don’t think I’ll soon be forgetting you. Thanks for your help.
Amos: Well thank YOU, Mrs. Otto, and I do hope that you will have a very pleasant day, Mrs. Otto!
And then he left the house with my $65 check, hereafter known as the MRS. OTTO TAX.
Otto: So what did the repair guy say?
Me: He said we should put less stuff in the washer, Mrs. Otto.
Me: Nevermind. I’ll tell you about it when you get home.
Me: P.S. I WAS RIGHT.
Otto: And it’s nice how you don’t gloat, too.
Me: Call me Mrs. Otto.