Missing the Maytag Man and Making Do Without Him

Missing The Maytag Man & Making Do Without Him

Fix your 20-year-old dryer, or replace it?

When the dryer breaks on a Saturday night, it doesn’t mean you call the Maytag man, who’s sitting around in an agony of boredom playing his fifty-third straight game of solitaire. There isn’t a Maytag man anymore, if there ever was, not since Maytag was bought by Whirlpool.

No, when the dryer breaks, it means that, instead of watching the movie you and your person rented and were so excited to watch while the toddler slept, your person has to run out into the snow with baskets of wet clothes while you drape the less soggy items over desks, the backs of chairs, and all other available surfaces.

It means your person returns empty-handed, because the laundromat was about to close, and the owner allowed him to feed the clothes in but not wait until they were dry. He must leave them overnight and return the next morning to remove their dazed, wrinkled bodies from the machine.

It means the movie goes unwatched altogether and you wasted $3, plus quarters.

It means you spend time, too, lots of time. First with your general handyman, Stephen, who swings by on Monday and spends an hour trying to locate and fix the problem but can’t. At least, together, you extricate an alarming amount of lint from the innards of the machine, enough to knit a whole new sweater. At least he doesn’t charge you. They don’t make ’em like this anymore, Stephen says. Trouble is, they don’t make the parts for ’em anymore either. You may need to replace it. And all the machines nowadays are designed to last four, five years at the most, even though they’re so expensive.

Try calling PC Richards, he suggests. They might have a guy. If you can get it fixed rather than replaced, do it.

It means you then spend time on the phone with PC Richards, or, more specifically, a gentleman named Sayani who has been their appliance manager for two decades and who can identify your dryer when you’re only halfway through reading him its ID number. He speaks fondly of that dryer, like he dated its sister in middle-school: “It’s from the mid-nineties and it’s a workhorse. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.”

Sayani asks for your number and texts you info about replacement models that are on sale: $679.97 for the washer, $779.97 for the dryer, and of course they have to be bought as a pair. Your hand tightens around the pen. You’re not planning on staying in this apartment for more than another year and a half, tops. Do you really have to empty out your wallet for a set of machines that will end up largely benefiting the next owners? (At least for four, five years, anyway.)

That unit is made in America, though! There’s another unit that’s made overseas, and that washer-dryer pair is slightly cheaper, but when he describes it Sayani sounds disapproving. Neither option is as good, really, as the Maytag stackable washer-dryer you have. I just don’t know if you can find those parts anywhere, he tells me, sounding wistful. But if you can get it fixed rather than replaced, do it.

If you can spend under $200 rather than under $2000, you should? Sounds about right.

He Googles around on your behalf while you’re still on the phone and is pleasantly surprised to discover that there are parts available after all on a site called partselect.com. That gives him hope. Try that, he suggests. Try seeing if you can find a guy who specializes in old-school appliance repair and see if he can get those parts for you. Isn’t the Internet wonderful?

You agree that it is.

Let me know what happens? he asks. He’s invested in the outcome now, and not because he stands to make any money if you do manage to get the Maytag fixed. Just because he wants to know how the story ends. You promise him you’ll tell him.

It means you next spend time Googling around until you find Joe, an appliance repairman in Brooklyn with glowing Yelp reviews and experience fixing that kind of old-school washer-dryers. (Isn’t the Internet wonderful?) Joe agrees to come by in the morning. In the morning, Joe shows up. Joe has the equipment, the experience, the know-how. The dryer takes one look at Joe and starts working again. It wants to be called a workhorse. It wants to hear yet again how superior it is to contemporary models with their highfalutin’ “computers” and such-like. Joe obliges. The dryer purrs.

Even though the dryer seems to be working, Joe knows its tricks and replaces the part that probably caused the problem. He charges $180 total and lets you know that his work comes with a three-month warranty. As he leaves, he tells you, When you move, you may want to take this unit with you. This unit is a workhorse. They just don’t make ’em like that anymore.

When you text your person, he’s happy to hear the problem’s solved. But not as happy as Sayani is at PC Richards when you text him too.

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