Friday, 19 October 2012


I spend a lot of time doing laundry

I did my first stint as a stay-at-home dad when I took parental leave for our oldest (now nearly 10 - wow) when he was under a year old. I did a lot of laundry and washed a lot of dishes and then just plain washed my hands a lot because of all the bodily fluids coursing around the house. After a few weeks I was complaining to my wife that I thought I had done something to my hands - they were extremely painful. She had a look and erupted into peals of laughter - "You have dishpan hands! Hahaha. Painful are they? Poor thing. Hahaha."

Suddenly, in a flash, I understood all those commercials of my youth involving Madge, Palmolive and how women waiting at the manicurist would be "soaking in it."

Dishpan hands are no joke, sister

As I recall I used a liquid of my own choosing to ease the pain - Glenlivet administered internally. Not sure it worked but after a few treatments I didn't care.

You're soaking in it

While I have learned many lessons about keeping my hands supple and soft even while I care for my family's every need (i.e. we bought a dishwasher) the amount of clothes washing has not diminished. It in fact has increased to an alarming degree - with three boys I need to do at least one load a day to keep on top of it. This is why it was so distressing when our recently purchased front loading washing machine stopped working. (AGAIN!)

Side note: Please allow me at this moment to express my extreme displeasure with Sears Canada and its so-called Protection Plan. After purchasing said machine, Sears' surly delivery men dumped it unceremoniously in the laundry room and refused to hook it up (the story of how I removed the original washing machine and in so doing broke off the hot water tap causing a jet of hot water to empty into my basement is, as Hammy Hamster used to say, "another story"),
... but that's another story

After a few short months, it started leaking through the front loading door. The baffle (the large rubber ring) had to be replaced. Eventually Sears got the new baffle in and sent a very confused looking repairman to replace it. With that problem fixed the washing machine no longer leaked but every 3 to 5 washes it would tear a clothing item to shreds. Now I'm not a doctor and I don't even play one on TV but it seemed pretty evident that the cause of this was the installation of the new baffle. Sears had to send 2 more repairmen over a few months to determine what was the problem. They couldn't. On top of that the machine just stopped working entirely before  the last repairman showed up. He sanded off a rough point on the inner rim of the machine and pulled a few clothing items out of the filter (and man did they STINK!) and explained it was my fault - we had to put all small items in mesh laundry bags so the suction didn't pull them into the filter. He just had come from a  call where he removed  a bunch of tiny thong underwater from a woman's washing machine filter. Awkward. But WTF? This seems a rather huge design flaw.

Did Sears take any responsibility for this? It did not. I spent the good part of a day arguing with people of increasing responsibility at Sears that they should reimburse me for the replacement cost of my damaged clothing which, but for the incompetence of their staff administering their misnamed Protection Plan, I would not have had to buy. The last joker actually demanded that I provide him the receipts for the original pieces of clothing damaged (Yes, that's right. Clothing we had bought over the course of the last 5 years he wanted to see the price of before he would consider my claim.) I offered to send him the box full of ruined clothes as evidence of the machine's work but he didn't want this. He later as much as admitted to me that his demand was in bad faith as even if we could provide receipts he wouldn't pay out.

I now understand that the Protection Plan should in fact be called the Protection Racket - similar to the way gangsters want protection money to protect you mostly from themselves. Note to Sears Canada: You Suck and I will never buy a product from you again - I can't afford it.

The lovely folks at the Sears Canada Protection Racket

In the meantime, what could I do? I bought a bunch of laundry bags and dutifully put all small items in said bags but, after a while, the machine started snacking on our clothes and then seized up again. I did what I should have done in the first place - I called up a real repairman who knew what he was doing. He arrived, I told him the story and in seconds (SECONDS) he said, "Well, here is the problem, the first guy put the baffle in wrong and you have a gap in here a cat could get through. And neither of the other guys noticed it."

I KNEW it! The dance of rage and vindication I did at that moment was one you might see in a documentary film about the rituals of people who believe in savage gods of retribution and justice. All I know is that it kind of scared the repairman. He did tell me that one thing I must do with these front loading machines is to be extremely vigilant about cleaning out pockets, each and every one, as small items can get through and block the filter. Great. Now the laundry process takes even longer. I will never buy another pair of cargo pants either for that matter. What does anyone need all those pockets for anyway? Well, I can tell you what boys need them for: tape, used Kleenexes, coins, buttons, rocks, sand, gimp, snail shells, pieces of wire, candy wrappers, stickers, stick on tattoos etc. You learn more from going through your son's pockets about what he's got up to than he'll ever tell you.

Maybe that's why during my first instance of pocket duty, I suddenly had a flashback to when I was in high school. I was lying on my bed, reading, when my dad poked his head in and said, "Your mother found this in your pocket while she was doing the wash." He tossed something to me. I automatically said "Thanks" just as the packet of condoms hit the comforter. I looked up, we locked eyes and he said, "We'll talk about this later." Oh, man... talk about a Protection Plan going wrong.

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