Monday, December 2, 2019

I mean, it's good enough, right?

A recent FB post:

As my wife pointed out, I was manually controlling the wipers when she informed me. The slow setting and whatever speed the intermittent setting was on were both too fast--we were getting this obnoxious scraping sound every time the wipers wiped, because it wasn't wet enough. So I was controlling it manually, every so often, and my wife says "why don't you just..." My first reaction was actually "What? You can't do that!" "Yeah, every car you've ever driven has had one of those." I'm still not convinced that my first car, a 1992 Dodge Shadow, had such controls, but she's actually driven every other car I've owned, so I mean, she probably does know about those.

While a tad embarrassing, it was too funny not to post.

But the very next day, I had a sort of moment of clarity as I reflected on what could be a pattern. It was like this:

We've lived in our house 16 months, and in that time, our dryer has never been very good. First, it was a dryer that came with the house. It was old-ish, and we kind of assumed that it was crap, since they were willing to leave it. When someone (okay, it was me) broke the washing machine by trying to wash a sleeping bag in it and burning out the motor, we figured it was just as well to get a new set. And really, the new ones were both awfully nice.

But. The new dryer, with its wealth of interesting drying features, wasn't actually much better in terms of, well, drying things. Which might be the most important feature of a dryer. Arguably. How "not much better" was it? I'd have to run a cycle probably two or three times. And those cycles sometimes took approximately forever. I resorted to drying half a load of laundry while hanging the other half around the basement to dry under the influence of the dehumidifier, and thus dry faster when their turn finally came.

Side note: it's telling that our basement needs a dehumidifier, and so maybe I shouldn't be going out of my way to introduce more humidity.

But whatever. I mean, that was fine. Other than all the time wasted hanging stuff up, and the time wasted moving it from there to the dryer, and it sometimes still taking two really long cycles to dry half a load of laundry. This has been the state of things for at least several months, maybe in part because I'd gotten used to it with the old dryer, which I assumed to just be crap.

It took all of 10 seconds Googling to realize that the problem might actually be that the dryer vent was clogged. In fact, I'd actually heard about that possibility before we got the new dryer, and assumed (hoped?) that the new dryer vent pipe would have taken care of that possibility.

In the end, it took me maybe five minutes to take off the vent cover outside, clean out the lint that was entirely blocking the flow of air out and put it all back together.

And that got me thinking: what the hell is wrong with me? Seriously. This could have been fixed in five minutes sixteen months ago, if only I hadn't been so accepting of what we might call "the way things are."

That's the theme here. Why did I never discover that the intermittent wipers had an adjustable speed? Because they were fine at whatever speed they happened to be. Not great, not ideal, but you know. I could live with it, so why look for an alternative? Which was more or less how I approached the dryer situation. Really, it was a pain in the ass to hang stuff up every time I did a load of laundry, to have to wait to do another load until I'd ran through two ridiculously long drying cycles. But at the same time it was a royal pain, it was also... fine. Just the way it is. What's the use of complaining?

And then, in the lead-up to The Game (Ohio State and that team up north), I was reading a piece by a guy a few years younger than me about growing up in the 90s in an Ohio town where, nonetheless, the majority of kids seemed to be rooting for that team up north, which at the time was dominating the rivalry. "So why keep doing it [cheering for OSU]?" He offers a couple explanations before saying that it might have been

the almost religious Midwestern belief that if you put up with enough crap, eventually things will turn around in your favor. That last part sounds dumb and insane, but I live in a reality where the Buckeyes started a third string quarterback against Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon in successive games and beat them all to win a national championship, so you tell me what's ridiculous and what isn't.
And maybe that's it, too, a Midwestern sense that putting up with sub-par circumstances are just what you're meant to do in this world, a form of karmic dues-paying that will reward us.

But yeah, it's actually dumb and insane, and something I need to work on. Stop "suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" as though it's somehow ennobling, and instead "take up arms... and by opposing end them."

Or, you know, just clean out the damned lint. Or look into your car's features.


  1. We thought our kitchen overhead light wasn't working because of a wiring problem, so we put a lamp on the kitchen table. Twelve years later, we finally checked and found out that the light bulb was burned out. So yeah.

  2. Yeah, this summer I finally googled how to clean my dryer vent after 16 years and boy howdy, that makes a big difference! Also means I'm less likely to burn the house down, so it's a win-win.

  3. Oh gosh, we are guilty of this also. My husband will just let things stay broken and I'm usually the one who finally gets fed up and starts googling how to fix the dishwasher, the washing machine, the broken faucet, etc!!