The Scene: A peaceful Sunday. Our protagonist stretches out on the couch for a much-deserved nap, the washing machine sloshing soothingly in the background. A documentary about vegan eating plays on the television, the light from outside is dim and gray, two cats nap on comfy cushions nearby, and all seems perfect for an undisturbed sleep.
The washing machine begins to beep, and a hitherto unseen message flashes alarmingly across its display:
Quoth our protagonist: “…wtf is FE.”
Upon getting to my feet, I discovered that not only was the washing machine trilling out an alarm and proclaiming “FE” with all its might, there was a healthy flood of water growing on the floor beneath it.
Gifted with eloquence in such situations, I declared, “Shit.”
My first instinct, to turn off the machine, was foiled when the machine TURNED ITSELF BACK ON a’la 2001: A Space (Washing) Odyssey. I tried twisting knobs, jamming buttons, and shaking the thing from side to side, but the water continued to gush into the machine and onto my floor, and nothing would possess it to stop. Probably because it was possessed.
Unplug it! I told myself, but the damned thing weighed approximately 50,000 pounds and no amount of hard-won vegan strength could budge it and allow me access to the plug.
Finally, I risked a call to the building janitor, and after he helpfully told me to “turn it off,” I was informed that he was in Wisconsin and that the office was closed for the weekend, thus making any form of rescue unlikely.
Me: Soooo…I should just put on my swim trunks and get used to a flooded apartment, then?
Actually, he said he would try to find someone to help, but the next thirty minutes passed with no further communication from him, and I realized that I either had to shell out $100 for a plumber…OR FIX THE DAMNED THING MYSELF.
My brief, panicked foray into Google Search had told me that a faulty water inlet valve was probably the problem, but reaching it was something of an issue since the washer was set into the counter and could not be budged. I ventured vainly into the bathroom for my crowbar (I keep it in there along with other tools in case (a) I am ever locked in the bathroom and need to make a daring escape, or (b) someone with murder on their mind infiltrates my inner sanctum, driving me to the bathroom to make a final stand with my hammer, crowbar, and tiny pink power drill), but it was very little help.
Finally, I rolled up my sleeves and realized there was only one way out of this, and it was to employ the same tactic every person incapable of parallel parking has employed at some point in their lives: I would rock the washer back and forth in minuscule increments until it came out from the damned wall.
AND SO I DID. It took about five solid minutes of bumping the thing back and forth with the weight of my body, the water gushing all the while, but I finally managed to do so – and there, shining out at me from its place against the wall, was the water shut-off valve.
I switched it off, and in a rare instance of a mechanical device doing what it was meant to do, the water stopped! The washer clicked contentedly to itself and ceased its struggles. Peace descended. Only a small pond occupied my floor, instead of a great, engulfing sea. Glory be.
I texted the janitor, who replied with: “Oh, yes, shut off the valve.”
As it stands now, the water has stopped gushing, there is a new, dust-bunny-filled crevice for Darla to investigate, and I’m hoping someone will be by tomorrow (or the next day or the next day or the next day) to fix what is actually wrong with my washer.
And in the meantime, I can at least be confident in the knowledge that when janitors flee to Wisconsin and the oceans of the earth rush into my home, I will know what to do.
Should anyone wish to hire me for any DIY-related services in the future, I hope you will reconsider, but if not, you know where to find me.
I will be here, laying on my couch, taking a damn nap.