Deliriously dry, and also not so wet

By Carolyn Marsh | Aug 29, 2011
Photo by: Steve Paley

It boggles my mind that we take the word of the same people who rated toxic mortgage derivatives — or whatever they’re called; one of the great and unfair advantages Wall Street and its creatures have over us low mortals is that they all understand the language, which to me is as unfathomable as Sanskrit (and have you heard the one about the Sanskrit professor at Harvard who during the course of a decade had only one pupil, and when that pupil decided not to continue with Sanskrit, feeling, as who can blame, him that there was not much of a future in it, as one would expect of the only people who don’t seem to have the U.S. in its sights — if there are Sanskriti, of course, which I don’t know but would hazard a pretty safe guess not) the professor, as I was saying, hied himself down to the Anderson Bridge and jumped in the Charles.

I’m not sure if he drowned or developed a wasting disease — ha ha — from the toxins in the river, but he certainly never taught Sanskrit again). Well, as I was saying about the people who rated the toxic mortgage items AAA, why they should be deemed fit to pronounce on the U.S.’ creditworthiness surpasseth my little understanding. Why, after their lies caused such havoc in world markets, should they be believed again, with the ensuing havoc, etc.? I fear this is what the worship of “experts” has brought us to, and that there is no turning back.

It is to me a sign of how low my expectations are for any appliance (and a lot of other things) to work as it should, and if it does not, as is so often is the case, for the chance that it can be made to work again courtesy of the instructions that sometimes accompany it, but are more often online, so that if you don’t have a computer and a printer, or at least a good memory, you are plumb out of luck, that I am astonished to have succeeded in making a successful repair.

Take my clothes dryer, for example, and, as Henny Youngman so famously said, and so would I have a month ago, please! Instead, I started to trawl the Internet, where I discovered a whole nation of people with my same problem: The dryer wouldn’t dry.

Well, atcherly, it did dry, but it took so long and the results were so spotty that I was sure the dryer was long past its sell-by date. Considering that I once had a Maytag dryer that worked perfectly for decades, even to where it could get every last little speck of Kleenex off the clothes on the not-so-rare occasions when I dumped a load of laundry in the washer and discovered, at the end of what experts call the cycle, that the one pocket I had overlooked was full of tissues, I was not happy with a dryer that had been in my possession for only a few short years.

The manual (which I was actually able to find, having over the past few months brought my filing up to the Ms, where I now file Manuals, even if there are times when I think Appliances would be a better way to categorize the dryer, or maybe even Major Appliances, as it does not seem right somehow to put my clothes dryer and my telephone answering machine in the same class as needing manuals, for despite the fact that I have had my answering machine for at least two decades, I still do not know how to reset the time and the date and the message on the numerous occasions where a squirrel, or should I say a former squirrel, or a motorist, and sometimes “former” fits that bill too, has taken CMP and hence my answering machine off the grid) was no help whatsoever. According to the manual, the dryer never didn’t work, never got old and never failed to live up to expectations, or if it did, it was time for a new one. Not in my house was it time!

What I absolutely love about the Internet is the speed, if not the discernment, with which it responds to even the simplest (in the sense of lowest common denominator) commands. I typed in “Dryer won’t dry” and got 15 million responses in 0.18 seconds, which is a heck of a lot of responses very fast. Then, of course, I had to sift through them to decide which of the hundreds of reasons why a dryer won’t dry, including not being plugged in (not the problem with mine, as I make the rounds of my house several times a day to make sure everything is still plugged in, except for my GE Toast’r Oven, which Consumer Reports says leaving on is a sign of a high-risk lifestyle, like cleaning your ears with Q-Tips. Not a joke; I’ll tell you when to laugh), applied to my very own dryer and was happy to find, leading all, the Vent Variation.

That is to say that not all the lint that comes off dried clothes gets caught in the upfront lint filter that is so deceptively easy to clean — deceptive, I say, because there is a far bigger, more efficient lint filter deep in the dryer’s innards that you cannot get to without removing the vent duct, that in fact you are not even alerted to the existence of, and that plays a far greater role in the low-performing function of the dryer (and I know I sound like a dryer expert, but I in fact didn’t have my first dryer until I was 25 and married, and when it started to take up to a day and a half to dry one load of laundry, which made it very hard to plan ahead what you wanted to wear unless you left it dirty or wore it wet, neither a very appealing alternative, and I called the repairman, he took one look — actually it was more like a fleeting glance — at my machine and suggested I clean the filter. I thought it was very mean of him to charge me for the visit since it was I in fact who repaired the dryer by —  um, cleaning the filter) than the dinky little filter in front, and that every now and then you must dismantle most of the dryer and clean out the monster hidden vent.

For some very strange reason I had bought a vent duct just a few days earlier at Home Depot, guessing at the size, which turned out to be right, though envisioning a vent in the back of a dryer that you do not spend a lot of time behind was pretty tricky and I just took the one on the top, and as I said it was the right size, which means my personal run of good luck is over for the next decade, and then, in a maneuver that I couldn’t help thinking was much like trying to stuff a marshmallow in a thimble — OK, you try squeezing yourself behind a dryer and actually getting something done like removing the old duct, which looked as though it had seen much better days, which of course it had, clearing out the hidden and almost unreachable hidden lint chamber and then installing a new duct — all this at floor level, by the way — I accomplished the task, and I’m happy to say that the dryer has performed like a champion ever since, drying everything in sight in record time.

What I’m interested in knowing now, of course, is what is meant by the settings on the dial of More Dry, Less Dry and plain old Dry. Perhaps one of these days I’ll try all of them out. As far as I’m concerned, dry is dry, no more and no less.

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