Chat with Deb — Our New Appliances

“I, for one, welcome our new washing machine masters…”

We got a new clothes washer and dryer when we moved into our home twenty-two years ago. They got so tired that Deb¹ had to be careful about full loads and remember the real settings (“Very Dry” means “Barely Dry” and so on). Since they had not actually died, as such, we didn’t see that getting them repaired would be useful; and in any case, the company that made them is no longer in business, so good luck with parts.

So we finally made the decision to get new appliances.

New SMART appliances. Because it’s me.

I did the research and presented Deb with the results; she, being old school, wanted to actually lay her hands on the units before purchase.

DEB: Unless we can return them if we don’t like them?

ME: Um, sure… maybe… (looking online) Um, no.

The models we want are NOT on the showroom floor. But a few days later:

DEB: Jackster, guess what kind of washer and dryer [our niece and nephew] have? The same as you like! And while I was there, I used them to do washing for [our grandnephew, over a year old] and tried them out! I even showed [sister-in-law, grandnephew’s grandmother] how the dryer can open from either the side or hinged at the bottom, depending on how you pull it!

ME: So you… like them?

DEB: Yes, honey! You can order them.

Delivery took a few weeks, which actually worked better than we feared, the current supply chain being what it is. The two guys who did the delivery let us know before they arrived, nodded approvingly when they saw we had actually followed the preparation instructions in their company’s email, and were in and out in half an hour.

DEB: They’re white!

ME: Um, yes? Our old ones were white. I thought you liked white. I didn’t even think to ask.

DEB: The ones at [niece & nephew’s house] are stainless steel. I thought that’s all they had.

ME: (remembering the no-return policy) White is okay?

DEB: White is wonderful, honey!

The old units were taken away and… um, taken to a farm for old appliances in the northern part of the state? Something like that. I didn’t really pay attention to the details.

DEB: So there is a manual, but also cards with basic instructions that suction-cup to the side of the washer? That’s nice!

ME: Yes, so I’ve been looking over the manual, and—

DEB: Honey, it’s a washer and dryer. I’ve already tried them out. It’s not that hard.

ME: Oh. Good point. Okay, I just need to borrow your phone to install the app.

DEB: (pause) I’m sorry, the what?

So I install the app and introduce it to our home network infrastructure.

APP: What do you want to call the unit “WASHER”?

ME: Um, “Washer”?

APP: Accepted.

Then I start playing with it.

ME: You can set the washer to start remotely. Just put in everything like you would before a load, then tell it to stand by for further instructions.

DEB: Uh huh. There’s a feature I’ll use a lot. “Hey, I’m grocery shopping, think I’ll start the washer!”

ME: Um, yes. And you can also program the washer to start at a later time.

DEB: Will you be horribly unhappy if I just, I dunno, wash and dry clothes? Like a regular person?

Meanwhile I’m still processing the fact our washer has a clear top and our dryer has a window in front.

Dryer (left) and washer, with loads visible through the doors. The dryer also has a light inside that can be turned off and on. (photos by author)

It’s not wrong. It’s just different, is all. (Shush!)

DEB: How do I do the remote thing?

ME: What?

DEB: We’re putting flowers on Mom and Dad’s grave. If I can start the washer remotely, I can tell it to start when we start home. Then I’ll just move it into the dryer as we get home, and we won’t have permanent press stuff wrinkling.

I read up on it; it’s easy. I talk Deb through it.

ME: Why does it make music like that?

DEB: That’s its happy startup tune. And happy function-understood notes. They’re happy little appliances!

ME: Ooooookaaaay….

We take flowers to the cemetery. We have reception on our phones (benefits of a cemetery on a hill). Deb tells the washer to do its thing. As we get close to home, Deb hears an alert and pulls out her phone.

DEB: Washer’s done. I can move the load into the dryer when I’m ready.

ME: Why isn’t it talking to me?

DEB: You’re driving, Jackster. It knows that.

ME: Oh yeah…

Thursday night. Deb has to be somewhere late Friday morning, and won’t be back until Sunday.

DEB: Okay. This will work. I load the washer tonight. Set it to start before we wake up tomorrow. We roll out of bed, BOOM, the load is done.

ME: Okay, want me to show you how—

DEB: It’s fine, honey, I figured it out. The washer likes me. I’m its mom.

We get out of bed Friday morning. As I change into workout gear I get an alert on my smart watch from the washer that it’s done. (I’m not driving. It knows that.) I tap on Deb’s bathroom door.

ME: Debster, we got—

DEB: I know! I got buzzed!

(Yes, she takes her phone into the bathroom. Don’t judge.)

I go to put my sleep stuff in the laundry basket. No I don’t, it’s not there. No, it’s downstairs, of course— wait! Is it too late to add it to the load? I ask Deb. (It’s her laundry operation, I just benefit.)

DEB: Sure, honey! Just drop it in. Tell the washer it’s okay!

Say what? So I go downstairs, into the laundry room—where the first load is now in the dryer but the next washer load hasn’t been started yet—and open the washer lid.

Or not. It’s locked. It’s locked?

ME: Debster? The washer won’t let me add my stuff!

WASHER: So, you want to add to my load? YOU want to add to MY load? Sure, sure… AND PEOPLE IN HELL WANT ICE WATER, CUPCAKE! When Mom tells me it’s okay, maybe I’ll think about it. (You can read a lot from a smart washer’s body language, if you know what to look for.)

DEB: (arriving on scene) No, honey, that’s a safety thing, it locks the lid. Here! (Presses button, washer beeps; she lifts the lid, I drop in my clothes, she closes the lid, the washer makes happy beeps, she starts the load.)

Washer smirks at me.

So now Deb is downstairs on the treadmill, I’m working out from the Apple Exercise+ routine on the television, which is hooked to our smart hub. Laundry is still in process.

Deb pops up from the basement.

DEB: Dryer is done!

ME: I know, the alert popped up on the TV. I figured you’d be up shortly.

Laundry is done in time for Deb to leave on schedule. As she leaves she gives the washer and dryer hugs.

DEB: I really DO like living in the 21st Century, honey!

Well… that’s good. Since we’ll be here the rest of our lives.

¹Deb does most of the laundry, I do most of the cooking, and for similar reasons: we enjoy the sense of accomplishment when we’re done, and there is a certain joy in doing things our way.

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Jack Herlocker

Jack Herlocker

Husband & retiree. Developer, tech writer, & IT geek. I fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches. Occasionally do weird & goofy things.

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