I have long suspected that the appliances in my house conspire against me. What else could possibly explain their uncanny tendency of dying in clusters and at the worst possible times?
The refrigerator once died the night before we were to leave on a week-long vacation. Three years ago, the coffee maker, the microwave, and the dishwasher all gave up the ghost within a two week period. The following year, the oven breathed its final breath while I was cooking a pricey standing rib roast for Easter dinner. A few months ago, the washer decided to leave this earthly realm in the middle of a large load of jeans. Nothing spells laundry day misery quite like having to hand-wring the water out of several pairs of men's jeans. There's also my cranky cook top which randomly chooses whether or not it will actually cook on any given day. I imagine it being like Scarlet O'Hara in Gone with the Wind: I'll think about cooking to-mah-row.
Our latest appliance casualty is the clothes dryer. At 13 years of age, it's far from new, but should definitely have had some years left in it. My washer lasted 17 years. Shouldn't the dryer have hung in there a while longer?
Not only did it die with a full load of my son Evan's clothes in it, including every single pair of jeans he owns, but we didn't discover that it failed to dry them until 20 minutes before Evan's school bus was due to arrive. We scrambled around, trying to find a pair of pants for Evan to wear. Unable to find any, Evan had to wear a wet pair of jeans to school.
Yes, it's inconvenient when your dryer dies, but it's even more of an issue if you can't afford to replace it right away. In a month plagued with reduced income, property taxes, and a host of other surprise expenses, replacing a broken dryer won't be in our budget for another few months at the earliest.
As the Great Recession continues to march on, and I've watched income, savings, and safety nets disappear, it's been difficult to remain hopeful that our current situation will eventually improve. Even though I tried to deal with this latest appliance demise as best I could, I felt utterly defeated by it. I just couldn't shake the feeling that this was one more thing I didn't need, one more thing in a long list of disappointments, one more expense I simply couldn't afford. I felt as if the Universe had kicked me once again in my financial gut and I wasn't sure I'd recover from it.
It had been three days since the dryer died and I was no closer to figuring out how to replace it. The laundry was piling up, and everyone in the house was out of clean socks. The idea of hanging up each individual sock to dry wasn't something I was looking forward to, but I didn't have hours to spend at the laundromat either.
Anyone familiar with me knows that I get these "nudges" from time to time, these whispers of consciousness that guide me in knowing how to proceed in my life. They can be as small as warnings of a speed trap ahead while I'm driving to bigger things such as how best to proceed with an important decision.
I'd been pondering the issue of the deceased dryer all day and feeling quite depressed by it. I was right in the middle of the mother of all pity parties when a nudge came to try the dryer one more time.
What a ridiculous idea, I thought. I'd already tried the dryer a half dozen times with the same outcome: it wouldn't tumble, it wouldn't heat, and it smelled as if it was burning down. It groaned loudly as if struggling mightily to tumble. My husband Dan tried it, too, to see if it was something he could fix, and it wouldn't even turn on for him. We both agreed that the dryer was officially dead.
Still, the nudge was insistent: try the dryer again.
I opened the doors to the laundry closet. If I was going to give this nudge of mine the best chance for a positive outcome, I did everything I'd normally do prior to running the dryer. I cleaned out the dryer lint, I turned the dial to the normal time, and I pushed the start button.
Unbelievably, it worked. To my astonishment, the dryer started right away and began tumbling normally. There was no bad smell and no odd sounds. I turned the dial to the off-position and opened the door. It was warm inside!
I don't know how it happened, but it did: my dryer apparently resurrected itself from the dead on the third day, just like Jesus.
No matter how unlikely or inexplicable, this bit of grace was just what I needed to pull me out of my funk and restore my hope that maybe things will indeed get better. Who knew that a dryer could heal itself and my sagging faith, all at the same time?
Hmm...maybe there's hope for my bank account.