Why I hate getting new appliances


Old appliances are like old friends — in my case, very old friends. They’re usually there for me, cooling my food, washing my clothes. Occasionally, they let me down and we have to call someone in to repair our relationship. They have their quirks, which increase with age. My 20-year-old basement refrigerator dribbled water onto the floor. My 15-year-old dryer refused to stop running at the end of a cycle. A towel on the floor took care of the fridge. I unplugged the dryer between cycles. My mother didn’t approve. She told me horror stories of malfunctioning dryers that burned families’ homes while they slept. I stopped running the dryer at night. Eventually, I knew it was time to look for replacements. Last week I went to Sears, figuring that I’d go with the brand that had served me so well this past decade. I picked out a washer and dryer that looked a lot like the one I already had. Of course, I measured them and measured them again to make sure they would fit in my laundry closet. I picked out a refrigerator that would fit under the cabinet that sits above it. I measured it and measured it again. “Don’t worry about the hinge height,” two different salesmen told me. “That part doesn’t go under the cabinet.” Right, I thought. That makes sense. And I measured the body of the cabinet again. My new appliances arrived yesterday morning. The trouble started almost immediately. “Your dryer isn’t going to fit in this closet,” the deliveryman told me, pointing to the new metal dryer vent the salesman told me I needed to buy, without mentioning its size. “Your old vent was plastic. This one is metal. It takes up more space.” The metal vent is sticking 2 feet out of the wall, which would place my dryer right where it would block my stairs. “If you got a flat back dryer that would fit. This one won’t.” This did not come up at the store. I ask him to try to bend the vent, the way the plastic one looped on itself behind the dryer. “The plastic one was a fire hazard,” he says. I tell him I’ve heard that. While he works on the dryer, another deliveryman rolls my refrigerator into place. While he rips off the protective tape, I eye its top edge nervously. It looks like it will fit under the cabinet, but it will be close. I stand close by to watch him slide it under. It clears! I’m relieved. I step back to size it up. That’s when I realize my mistake: the hinges, the biggest, plastic covered hinges you ever saw. They stick up about a centimeter past the bottom edge of the cabinet doors, preventing me from ever opening them unless I roll the fridge out. My mind races.What do I have in there? Do I need any of that stuff? I silently curse the salesmen. Of course the height of the hinge matters! The deliveryman interrupts my mental rant to tell me: “You don’t have a water line for me to hook up your water dispenser.” You don’t install that for me?” I ask. This did not come up at the store either. “No, you need to hire a plumber to install a water line. We can only hook up an existing one.” I’m going to need to hire a carpenter, too, to do something about the cabinet doors. He can also fix the frame on my outside door that the deliverymen said was dry-rotted. They couldn’t replace the hinge they removed to get the appliances in. The good news is, the guy upstairs got my dryer to fit. It would be my only victory. While driving my minivan into my driveway later that evening, I felt something funny under the car and heard a loud hiss. I got out to see an appliance plug cord with its prongs sunk deep into my brand new front tire and the long cord wrapped around my car’s axle, its end neatly cut as if it had been separated from its appliance by wire cutter. I’m guessing it fell of the appliance delivery truck. Just my luck, I hit the upturned plug square on. I watch the tire flatten completely. I put the kids to bed and wait for my husband to come home to put on the spare, which is stored, for some inconvenient reason, under the minivan. After about an hour of flashlights and tire wrenches, we get the spare on only to discover it’s flat, too. So, I’m not going anywhere today but it’s ok because my food is cold, my clothes are clean and dry and I guess I’ll spend the day rescuing whatever is destined to get really stale in that over the fridge upper cabinet.