We’re not so rural as we used to be. Is anyone? Anywhere? We have our share of Big Box stores and coffee on every corner, mixed in with horses loose on the road and a porcupine on the back porch (yesterday’s country adventures.) Where there used to be a cut-your-own-rhubarb field on the honor system with a cigar box for money and knives for borrowing, and a general store with a sign that proclaimed “Eat Here and Get Gas”, there are now cutesy Ye Olde Newe Englande strip malls. We have cable and the internet and mail at the end of the driveway. Big deal, you might say, but we didn’t always have that out here at the end of the earth. As you may gather, commerce here is a mixed bag of Them and Us.
So, when my washing machine of 36 years of age died recently, I embarked on a mini-adventure. Actually, it didn’t so much die as it needed a walker to get from task to task. It had certainly been a faithful companion, giving credence to the company’s statement that their repairmen were the loneliest men in town. I gave it some assisted living for a while by setting the timer and manually moving it along to its next task. Tiresome.
I have learned to trust local businesses who have been in business for a long time. The cheapest advertised price isn’t necessarily the cheapest “all in” price. I like the person who sells it to me to be the person who installs it and fixes it. I like them to know and to care about the item’s life cycle and to care how I am going to use it.
For appliances, I deal with a father/son company and we have a relationship that has been built up over the years by not seeing each other much, which is a bit of a mystery. A light will dawn and they will remember that I’m the one way down in the woods with the old appliances. It isn’t that they don’t have their share of MacMansion Sub-Zero type business, it’s that relationships are part of how they do business. It’s who they are and they remember.
If you haven’t replaced appliances in a long time, you will find that standard clearances and tolerances have changed. (Metaphor for our times? Never mind.) Friends of mine have bought new dishwashers AND new countertops since the new dishwashers don’t fit old spaces and they weren’t terribly pleased with that particular financial slippery slope.
My choices of washing machines that fit and were highly rated for dependability made my decision very easy~one choice. I bought it sight unseen over the phone with the Dad and the Sons installed the new one and removed the old one at my convenience (imagine that).
Of course, after a couple of loads, I had a couple of questions. I call Dad and identify myself and tell him I have questions. He answers, “Nope, it doesn’t have a filter. They haven’t put them in washing machines since 1998.”
“How did you know what I was going to ask?” I respond with surprise.
“Everyone who replaces an old machine asks that question, ” says he. “We’ve gone to the manufacturer and they say that the dryer should get out the lint. If you hang clothes on the line, they don’t care about you because there aren’t enough of you. They told us that.” This answered my next question.
“By the way,” he added, “this one won’t last you over 30 years.”
“No kidding,” I thought.