Monday, April 14, 2008


You can get good help these days

A couple of weeks ago, I had a new clothes washer and dryer delivered. My old washer, bought in 1983, almost 25 years ago, had begun to fail intermittently in the spin cycle. In those 25 years I have done nothing but use them — not one repair of any kind in nearly 25 years. Of course, I’m not washing clothes for a family with children, and the machines aren’t running every day or two. Still, it’s impressive that they’ve run smoothly for all that time.

But now it was time to replace them. In addition to the washer’s problem, the dryer was starting to make a bit more noise than it had been, and their age made me not inclined to try to repair them. And that’s for two reasons: apart from consideration of what life they might have ahead even with repair, there’s the issue of energy and water consumption. Newer machines are more efficient, so wouldn’t I want to take advantage of that?

And so I got a pair of stackable front-loading machines. It seems that a front-loading washer uses only around 25% of the water that a top-loader does, because instead of having to immerse the clothing in water all the time, it works by tumbling the clothes in and out of the water. It also uses a much faster spin cycle, about twice as fast, getting more water out of the load and making the dryer work less. And stacking them saves space in my too-small laundry room... not a global concern, but a nice benefit nonetheless.

Home deliveries often see one stuck in the house all day awaiting the truck, which will, of course, finally arrive at 5:30 in the afternoon. Not this time: they called, as I was told they would, the evening before, with an automated message that gave me a two-hour window. Two hours, not eight or ten or twelve! And the driver actually phoned me an hour early to see if he could come then. I was certainly pleased with that.

The two-man delivery team was typical of this sort of thing: the main guy, who had the experience and did the installation work, and the second guy, who was there for his brawn, who did the unpacking and much of the moving. They were quick, adept, and efficient, removing the old machines and dropping the new ones in effortlessly. As the main guy installed and stacked the machines, I remarked on how they have this process down to a science, and I asked how many they deliver in a day.

“Today,” he said, “we have sixteen.” I thought that sounded like a lot, but no. “That’s pretty light. Some days we have 20 or 21.”

I think they were at my house for maybe 20 minutes. Let’s say they have 10 minutes between stops, to get from one to the next. With 20 deliveries in a day, that’s 10 hours... plus lunch and any other breaks, that makes for a long day; if things are running late I can see that they might not get home until 8 or 9 at night.

I thanked them for the good work and tipped them, and thought that it probably pays decently. If they get $10 each in tips at each stop, that’d be $20/hour on top of their wages — $20 off the books.

Anyway, since everyone has horror stories about deliveries that never showed up and the like, I thought I’d share a story of a smooth, on-time delivery that I was happy with. Now I just have to hope that this washer and dryer work as well and last as long as their predecessors.

We got to install microwave ovens
Custom kitchen deliveries
We got to move these refrigerators
We got to move these color TVs

— Mark Knopfler

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