November 27, 2013

The Tale of E 20

This post is not about making stuff or about Jewish text. It is not about my dogs. It is a story about appliances. And why they are not your friends.

I hit the "start" button on the dishwasher last night, to make room for the dishes and utensils that are the dirty little secret of holidays. (Here, that will be the confluence of Thanksgiving AND Chanukah. Himself offered to cook for the next one...a very generous offer since that will be,and I kid you not, 70,000 years from now.)  The racks were crammed full, since I wanted to make sure I could run it at the last possible minute, thereby ensuring ample parking for all the detritus of cooking, dining, and drinking. Especially drinking.

So you probably already know where this is going. Or rather, not going.

Because instead of the rush of water in its bowels, the dishwasher gave forth the sound of one hand clapping. And the display started blinking.

 "E 20!" "E 20!" "E 20!"  If it had audio, I am sure we would hear a siren and Scotty screaming, "I've giv'n her all she's got,Captain, an' I canna give her no more."

What does E 20 mean? It means I have to find the instruction manual, that sacred text containing Secret Meanings of Thy Error Codes. Come on, why do they have to use codes, anyway? In case Enemy Combatants take over the kitchens of America and we want to make sure they can never ever clean the ovens? My secret decoder instruction manual has six illustrated pages on how to arrange juice glasses vs goblets (in each of three languages) and another two pages warning me not to allow small children to take up residence in the lower racks...but it hath not a word about E 20.

I lasso Himself away from Ebay and enlist his input. To his credit, he makes only a few idle remarks about wives who refuse to rinse dishes before loading them into the machine that rinses dishes. So together, we Google. And we discover many pages of people asking what the E 20 error code mean. One thing leads to another and we wind up on You Tube, watching a video on E20 that was vaguely reminiscent of the film strips we watched in science class on the making of igneous rocks.

Well, I'll be. "E 20" means "something is wrong with the drain. Or the pump.  Try removing the drainboard, cleaning the filter, returning the drainboard, removing the jets, cleaning the jets, and returning the jets.  At which point you will find out you will need to call a repair person."  Yeah, they're right, there's no way all that would fit on the display.

I do all this and am successful: I learn I need to call for repair. I decide first to call the manufacturer, who makes me read off tiny numbers engraved in the side of the door and has me push a series of buttons while holding other buttons while cradling the phone under my jaw. Together, we are successful: I need to call for repair.

She is happy to help with that. I give her my zip code, she gives me appliance repairers in cities four hours from here. We try again and get two more companies.  She is happy to contact them for me, assuring me that she should be able to have someone at my door sometime early next week.I spew and sputter, but she's immoveable. I pepper my vocabulary with words like "unacceptable" and even threaten to, gasp, blog about them. She encourages me to spend my time how ever I would like.

In the morning, Himself wakes me with an offer to go out for Thanksgiving if the dishwasher remains in E-20tude. Tempting, but I have already offered to dogsit for J's dog and don't want to go out in case Billy and Clutch eat him when we're not looking and I would have to look up at my friend of 25 years and say, "what dog?" I counter with a request that he wash his breakfast dish before he leaves but his forehead flashes an E 20 sign.

I get up, call the first appliance repair on the list. They are happy to come next Tuesday. I work Tuesdays. That's ok, they will call first. But I won't be here because I work on Tuesdays. Well, that's the only day they are in my area. Ok, what time do I need to be here?  Its a secret. They will call on Tuesday morning to reveal the time. But I won't be here on Tuesday morning because I work. That's ok, they will call first.

Now, the E 20 sign on MY forehead starts flashing and we agree to something, I am not sure what. I dial the other repair service and am utterly shocked when she says, "can we come out today between 4 and 6 pm?"

I feel slightly disappointed that the story will be coming to an end. It would have been fun to roll my eyes in martyrdom and tell my as yet unborn (I hope) grandchildren about the time I had to wash all the Thanksgiving dishes by hand. And here's the real truth: I actually don't mind washing dishes.  I put on my the audiobook de jour (this week it is Wolf Hall, a brilliant tale about Henry VIII read by one man and his 5,000 voices) and just wash...rinse...wash...rinse. Peaceful and present. My dad, even at age 86,  is Dishwasher Extraordinaire and I was beginning to look forward to sharing that time with him.

So maybe I won't tell anybody that the dishwasher is fixed. That, of course, is assuming 1) Mr. Repair Guy actually shows;  2)the machine is fixable; 3)the manufacturer still makes the part;  and 4) he has the part in the truck. If you've been around appliances long enough, you know that the confluence of these things is about as common as Thanksgiving and Chanukah colliding.

Nearly 24 hours into the saga, I learned the true meaning of E 20: "Wash everything in the dishwasher by hand before repair guy gets here. It will only take 10 minutes."

And it did. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.