Faux Pas Friday: Washing Machine Woes

Wringer en centrifuge / Wringer and centrifuge

I knew it was a bad sign when I heard the washing machine start making horrible noises as it hit the spin cycle. I realized it was even worse when I walked into the kitchen and smelled an electrical burn.

Panic isn’t exactly the word as my heart didn’t start racing or my palms start sweating. As I stood watching the vibrating machine, I thought, ok, that’s not good. (Good start – state the obvious. Maybe I had the part of panic where you stop being able to think).

Hmm, electrical smell, I continued ruminating. Electrical fires are different than normal fires, right? How does one put out an electrical fire should this thing become engulfed in flame? I know it’s not water, but I don’t have any baking powder.

By this point, my Smokey the Bear fire safety training is obviously failing me. So instead I turn to this line of questioning: Is it ok to just pull the plug or is that a dangerous move if unsure whether an appliance is about to explode?


How long can I stand here wondering, I wondered, before something bad happens? I mean, it was spinning away, the load’s final spin. I start rooting for it. Come on, washing machine! You can do it! Just finish this last minute without full-on calamity and I will be so happy.

It does. Yay!

I open the door and smoke wafts out. (Or let’s wistfully call it vapor?) Hmm, this is not good. (Original assessment still in tact).

I’ve been doing alright as a single lady, I guess. Pretty independent, self-sufficient, you know. But certain situations remind me of just how easily I can regress into just feeling like a helpless kid.

So, since there’s no man of the house anymore, I revert to what I always do when I don’t know how to deal with something: call mom. (Yes, 32 and this is still my option. You better believe it will be for many years to come, too).

Mom doesn’t really know what to make of the washing machine story, either, though she’s obviously concerned.

Well, you’ll just have to call a repairman to be safe, she says.

This brings up another question for me, but one I know my mom cannot answer: um, who do you call in France to look at your washing machine? What do I even look up in the phone book? I try to imagine who France’s equivalent of the Maytag Man may be.

To hide the fact of my further incompetence, I chide softly. Mom, it’s August. No repairman will even be working this month. (Actually, this is kind of true).

* * *

I took a little staycation in a friend’s apartment while she’s on vacation. I just wanted a new apartment to work in, a change of scenery. (It totally worked! Hardly left the apartment and got so much done!)

Anyway, I thought I’d take advantage of her washing machine while I had the chance. It worked like a dream. Only it reminded me of another weird thing about France – washing machines take forever! When the time flashed as 2 hours 5 minutes, I was shocked. Um, that is a really long time, right? I ran through different options and settled on 40 degrees and 1 hour 45 minutes. Good thing I’m not going anywhere.

* * *

So I have no male friends in Paris. I resort to calling my friend P on Skype and asking him about what to do about the washing machine. He doesn’t seem that concerned by my story, but helpfully points out how girly I am.

He further inquires whether it had been a particularly large load (How did he know?) Well, I admit, it actually was packed to the brim.

Yeah, that’s not good, he says (this is becoming the catch-phrase).

So next time, he tells me, try a small load, stay by it, and make sure you can easily pull the plug out if there’s any trouble.

That’s not dangerous to try again? I ask. It’s ok to just pull the cord like that?

You’ll catch it before anything happens. You’ll cut the energy source. So yes, Sion, you’ll be fine.

I’m not convinced, but I have to admit: in cases like this I just like being told what to do. So thanks, P.

I haven’t yet tried it out yet, but I will have to soon. Unless I can hold out until September 1 when I have a new roommate moving in. Someone for moral support when confronted with these domestic trials. (Or should I be worried? Simply someone to witness my foolishness?)

Oh boy, she’s going to love living with me.

17 Responses to “Faux Pas Friday: Washing Machine Woes”

  1. 1 writenaked August 13, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Glad you’re safe! Very effective suspenseful imagery, btw. πŸ˜‰ So how long does the drying cycle take if the wash is 2 hours? Looking forward to the new roomie stories.


    • 2 paris (im)perfect August 13, 2011 at 10:03 am

      Ha! Thanks. So I use the “32 minute” cycle on my machine (which actually seems to take about 45), so the spin cycle doesn’t take that long. I use that one because I have the other options that take about 2 hours, too. I haven’t broken down how long each action takes. I’m still stuck at, whoa, that’s a long time!

      And yeah, should be interesting having a new roomie. Poor L. Maybe I should have confessed that I was a blogger? She probably has no idea what she’s getting into πŸ™‚


  2. 3 Leslie August 13, 2011 at 12:41 am

    I sympathize, totally. I am so dependent on my huband to take charge whenever something like this goes wrong, and it makes me feel insecure to realize the extent to which I have avoided handling anything of this nature because I happen to have, for now, at least, a handy husband. My encouraging thought is that it is not really a life-threateningly urgent situation, just an inconvenience, and you have all the time you need to figure out a solution. You could ignore the problem for a couple of weeks, since it is August and kind of use that time to keep your antennae out for washing-machine-related information. And it’s true, French washing machines take a ridiculously long time!


    • 4 paris (im)perfect August 13, 2011 at 10:08 am

      Thanks, Leslie. These *are* very encouraging thoughts. I appreciate it. Yeah, I have to admit I’m pretty dependent in certain situations on help from others – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a skill to be able to ask for help, too πŸ™‚

      Be glad to have a handy husband around. What I figure is that we learn what we have to learn when we have to learn it. It’s a good reminder to me that everything now is just up to me. That’s kind of empowering, though scary, too. The thing is, though, I can always ask. I don’t know something at first and then it gets resolved. That’s a cool feeling.

      Of course, my method is basically what you say. Ignore the problem, but keep my antennae up. And ask my lovely blog readers, of course. I already feel better!


  3. 5 Tanya in Transition August 13, 2011 at 1:20 am

    I totally hear ya. And who IS the French equivalent of the Maytag Man? Does this equivalent exist?

    Anyway, your story reminds me of the washer scare I had at D’s parents. We had to do laundry while the parents were away. I should also mention that we were in the midst of doing the kitchen reno. This means that some of our clothes had dried bits of ceramic tile cement on them. I thought I had gotten the big chunks off. I was wrong. At some point during one of the spin cycles the machine didn’t sound too good. And it wasn’t spinning at the 1000 rpms (or whatever crazy speed they go at). The machine was chugging. It couldn’t spin. When I took the clothes out they were kinda dry but kinda full of semi-wet cement. I looked at D and asked “do you think that some of the cement is now stuck in the machine?”

    We used the machine again — we had to rewash our clothes after all — and things seemed to go better. So yeah, try a smaller load but stand by just in case.


    • 6 paris (im)perfect August 13, 2011 at 10:11 am

      Wow, yeah. Ceramic tile in the washing machine probably isn’t that good, either πŸ™‚

      Thanks for the moral support. Wouldn’t you know it – it really helps me to hear similar tales.

      So my new mission I guess is to figure out who the Maytag Man is in France. Hopefully I won’t have to call him in (as he probably doesn’t exist). Will try with a smaller load and cross fingers (always works!)


  4. 7 Risse August 13, 2011 at 10:53 am

    I live in Edinburgh at the moment (about to move to Rouen soon) and I’ve noticed here the washer machines take forever as well, must be a European thing. I actually had issues with mine when I first moved into my apartment here, it wouldn’t start at all, found out it was some random fault with the brand (thank god the landlady fixed it without hassle).


  5. 9 Amy Kortuem August 13, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    That’s the worst. Oh, sorry you had to deal with that. Laundromats are not fun places to be, even in Paris!

    I’ve just had one of those unpleasant single-girl incidents, too, although mine involved a mouse and not an appliance. Equal in the “not good” category, just with more screaming and jumping around shaking my hands.

    Good luck on your next load…


    • 10 paris (im)perfect August 14, 2011 at 11:36 am

      I’d be right there with you screaming and jumping around if I saw a mouse. Aie! Unpleasant single-girl incidents is a good way to put it πŸ™‚

      As for my washing machine it actually wasn’t at a laundromat, so even scarier! If it did erupt in flames, it would be in my apartment. Yikes! It’s Sunday, so I’m contemplating a load…not sure yet, though!


      • 11 Amy Kortuem August 14, 2011 at 9:26 pm

        I was hoping you wouldn’t have to go to a laundromat…Pour a glass of wine, get a good book and curl up next to the electrical outlet in case you try a (small) load today!


  6. 12 Delana August 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Here’s my recipe for repairs because I also have no male friends to call upon. While you’re staying at a friend’s apartment (I do the same thing for a change of scenery) invite a friend and her boyfriend (he must be handy) to stay in yours. You know…FREE vacation in Paris and all that. Please remind said friend that her boyfriend/husband/lover must bring his tool box. Leave a box of chocolates (wine and whiskey do not mix well with tools) and leave a honey-do list for the boyfriend. This also works when inviting female friends who are handy. I have had so many things fixed this way…it’s a guilt thing about that free vacation…and I’m already preparing the honey-do list for next vacationers who are coming at the end of the month. There’s my two cents!


  7. 14 Jenna/The Word Cellar August 16, 2011 at 5:28 am

    So normally I’m not very handy either, but my dad used to have a washer and dryer repair business. Seriously.

    A too-large load of laundry will tax the belt and result in a burning rubber smell. But it was an electrical smell?

    Oh wait, I think the belt issue happens in the dryer, not the washer. Shoot. Okay, yep: still not handy! Sending you good washer vibes and hoping you find someone to look at it.


    • 15 paris (im)perfect August 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm

      Jenna, I think you’ve actually allayed some of my fears. There was something weird going on with the rubber belt. Maybe that’s what was happening! I’m not that well versed in identifying different kinds of burning smells. Burning rubber sounds possible. Thanks so much! πŸ™‚


  8. 16 CBRetriever August 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Mine keeps getting clogged with 1, 2, or 10 cent coins that were left in pockets

    As far as slowness – towels (american style towels) taker at least 5 hours to wash and dry


  9. 17 Jennyphoria August 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Ha! My mom is always my first call for any emergency, too. She’s rarely helpful, but she always makes me feel better – or at least makes me feel like I’ve made an effort. That’s gotta count for something, right?


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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