Fixing the Washer


He was as old-school Chicagoan as you can get.
Loud. Plump. Simultaneously respectful and slightly crass. Nice. Hard working.

I’ve never had to fix a washer. It’s a big machine, so it seemed intimidating.

I’d watched several videos and discovered that the issue with mine was the boot seal – the large, rubber piece between the front-loading washer door and the rest of the machine. If compromised, water leaks. And water was leaking.

Even though I’d watched several repair videos, I still decided to hire someone. For the sake of this story, we’ll call him Frank. Frank Bhode.

Frank Bhode walked in, confident he could solve the problem. His confidence bordered arrogance.

The first trip was routine. He assessed the situation. We tried a few alternate fixes. Those solutions didn’t work. So we ordered the the new seal and I paid a deposit. By the time he left, I was uneasy about his ability to complete the job.

For his second trip, I blocked the entire evening. I’d hoped my hunches were off and that Frank could make quick work of the project.

But I was wrong.

At every turn, he either asked for a hand or I’d hear the sound of metal clanking joined by violent grunts and decide to leave my work and walk back to the machine. At one point, I had my computer open, showing him the videos I’d watched and then we would execute the task together.

As frustrated as I was, I was also fascinated by the machine. It was big, complex, well-built, and intimidating. On the other hand, it was like a simple puzzle. Everything had its place. And with a little patience and thoughtfulness, everything found its place.

We finished the job together. The final step was to run the washer to make sure it worked properly. We started a cycle and held our breath.

No leak. We were successful.

He was glad to be done. So was I. We high fived and chuckled at the experience we just shared.

Before Frank left, he offered me a job. Sincerely. But I declined.

I’d learned all that I wanted to about washers.