Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Masters of Mass & Velocity

Although I laughed myself to tears last week learning "Why We Yawn" – I felt like I should provide a story with personal context, and a lesson, to illustrate the humor in the lack of common sense I display on a near-daily basis. Whether it's losing a screwdriver while putting together a turntable (nevermind that I did not move while doing so), or leaving my keys in the door at work and not realizing I've done so until biking all the way home (twice in the last month)...I've become quite adept at glossing over the simple things in life. I blame it on constant esoteric thinking, mentally solving the problems of the universe, and adapting recipe amounts in my brain.

This summer, we moved out of a house we'd been living in for over 2.5 years. When my parents escaped the icy grip of the Midwest for Florida, they'd left behind their (20-year-old but still fine) Maytag washer-and-dryer, just as I was moving into a place with an empty basement. I took them everywhere I went in Indianapolis, but fate had other plans for these scuffed, white aluminum hunks of machinery: the washer went kaputt two weeks before the moving date.

Not wanting to fix a W/D set that was nearly as old as myself (though I have better hair), the east-side in me decided that I should drag them out of the basement and stick them on the curb with a big "FREE" sign taped to the street-side. Maybe my property-value-concerned neighbors would throw shade at such incomprehensible behavior...but hopefully they wouldn't sit there for three weeks like the beige couch I tried to rid myself of a couple years back.

With my younger (stronger) brother and buddy Andy assisting, we manhandled the dryer out of the basement and to the curb. Good to start with the lighter item, I said, as the temperature passed 95. Of course, moving day happened to be the hottest day of 2014. Andy mopped the sweat off his brow, replying, "Sure. Whatever you say." In the 80s they must have used a heavier gauge of aluminum – or maybe there were 30 years worth of pennies in its belly. Either wasn't light.

The washer posed multiple challenges, beyond being heavy as shit. The water intake had rusted onto the spout. After much wrenching (made harder with sweat-covered hands), I retrieved a hacksaw and cut the hose off. I'm sure the new residents will enjoy their hose portion, I thought. We inched it over to the ancient stairwell, tipped it on its side, and with Wes and I pushing from beneath and Andy guiding the top (and ruining his back), made it to the landing a foot down and 90-degree turn from the door.

Perfect time for the sides of the washer to slam against the molding. It was a half-inch too wide on either side...and because we couldn't rotate it while it was leaning at a 45-degree angle on the stairs, we had to back down to the basement floor and try not to squash ourselves. Wes retrieved some boards to use as ramps, and we rotated the washer so the slightly smaller backside faced the stairs.

At the penultimate moment, the sides of the washer this time scraped the wall with a shearing sound, like some fat tugboat dragging ass through the Panama Canal. But hey! – we made it up to the landing, and were a 90-degree turn from being out the back door. Unfortunately, the instrument panel made such a turn impossible. Wes's solution? Smash it forward with a hammer till the turn was possible. That instrument panel was pretty analog anyhow, with less dials than a 21st-century beard trimmer. No big loss.

So, now it's 100 degrees. Everyone is completely sweat-soaked, and the washer is in the backyard. I figure I have to be the one to shuffle it through the grass, around the house, and to the curb. My possession – my job. After wobbling forward a foot-or-two, Wes sees my lack of progress and gets up to help. We both grab two corners, and push as hard as we can to rotate and move the beast forward.

One problem – it doesn't budge. I figure it must be stuck on some funky grass knoll that I didn't see (not because I only mowed once a month...). We try again and the washer doesn't move. Sweat is in my eyes and I'm muttering, "...the fuck?" A third push gains a couple inches.

Andy is visibly upset in the shade of the back stoop. He has an engineering background, and is uniquely qualified to solve this matter of mass and velocity...right? "Here, let me see..." he grabs my end of the washer. Wes grabs his, and they move it five feet like it was riding on greased wheels.

Andy shakes his head, "Yeah, you guys were pushing at each other. C'mon!"

Shamed, I back off for the next 25 feet, only helping again when the gate is cleared, when I can drag the washer, panel hanging off like a loose appendage, across the cement. By the time we return in the evening to clean, it is gone. My oldest friend!

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