Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Washing Machine Songs

We bought a new washing machine a few months ago because the old washing machine was unpredictable. Most notedly, part-way through a cycle, it would flash "Er" (meaning "Error") and then not finish the load.

This new washing machine is a dream. And it even does a little chime when it's done a load. But the other day, I noticed it was having a bit of trouble. It was flashing something like "Er" near the end of the load and singing a whole song instead of just a few notes of a chime. When I'd open it up, the clothes would be clean and rinsed and spun. But I worried that if there was a problem, I should figure it out before the warranty wore off.

So I delved into the enormous filing cabinet in the basement. It has three bursting-at-the-seams files labelled "User's Manuals". The one for our toaster is in there. The one for a DVD player we no longer own is in there. The one for the leaf blower is also in there. I went to the laundry room and noted the brand "Samsung" and as I returned to the filing cabinet and leafed through the booklets, I gave myself a quiet and smug imaginary pat on the back for being so clever.

I found the User's Manual for our last washing machine and threw it away. And then I found the "Samsung" User's Manual I was looking for. I got comfortable and cross-legged on the floor, spread the manual in my lap and tried to read it.

I found myself turning pages without looking at the words. When I forced myself to read some words, I found I was reading words from various parts of the page instead of in one sentence, so intense was my dislike of reading technical jargon. Then I realized that the words I was reading were French words and if reading technical manuals in English is difficult, then French would certainly take a lot longer and prove more cognitively demanding. I flipped the booklet over and skimmed the Index for the words "Troubleshooting" then I flipped to that page. I perused the "troubles" that could be "shot" using this booklet and found, to my dismay, that not only did they not identify the error message and strange song that accompanied my washer, but some of the troubles that were stated in the book didn't even seem feasible for a washer. Like "The display is too dim." It was a red digital display. Could it really sometimes be too dim?

I mulled over that list of troubleshooting tips for a solid three minutes, forehead scrunched up as I tried hard to concentrate, only to realize at the end of the three minutes that the manual I was reading was for a Samsung television.

I eventually found the User's Manual for our washing machine. There was no error message listed like the one I thought I was viewing. I think I was seeing "Ec" or End of cycle. And the song at the end of the load, well, that is just a perk for having such a friendly appliance.

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