I seldom dig my heels in and determine to fight until I am the victor. I’m sure I had that skill set when I was younger: competing on the sport’s field, proving to my mother that my sister was wrong, determined to win the attention of some handsome boy. Thankfully, many of those types of conquests faded with age and wisdom. Plus, life has – in a measure – taken the fighting spirit out of me. I’ve been married for decades, and I long ago learned where I wanted to invest my strength. Then there was raising five children where I realized that the contest evolved daily and the goal line was a constant moving target. Add to all that a career of pastoring. A major unspoken rule in that occupation is that a minister of the gospel should not be picking fights with congregants!
A few months ago, the lover-not-fighter person that I have become reverted to a version of her former-self when I had to buy a new washing machine. My older model, which was the same brand and style used by my mother, finally died. This old faithful friend had served me for over 25 years and washed dozens of loads of clothes each week. She may have deserved to be put to rest, but I was very sad to see her go.
My husband and I set out to purchase a new machine. I soon discovered that there was no version of my old machine’s former self. No! She would allow me to tell her how much water to use, how long to run the wash cycle, when to pause and allow the load to soak. She executed my wishes, yielded to my commands, and followed my instructions. But the new machines - they follow the computer programming built inside of them by some expert who designed and manufactured them somewhere in a factory in a location that was definitely not my laundry room!
Now – if you detected a little bit of sarcasm in the above statement, you would be correct. I just wanted to be lord of my laundry room. Apparently the fighter in me was just lying dormant awaiting the right challenge; and the super-duper, computer-smarter, settings-shrewder, temperature-brainier, water level-cleverer, automatic everything washing machine entered my home and challenged me to a duel. The contest was on.
My first load was white towels. I pressed the pre-programmed setting that said “bright whites.” First, it had to sense the load size. That took 7 minutes of the tub turning a little to the left, then a little to the right, then a pause to think, then a repeat of the aforementioned process. Finally, my incredibly intelligent machine began to fill. That took another 7 minutes because the infilling would start and stop with little spurts of water only to start and stop and spurt again. Then at last, the actual washing began. But wait – there was not enough water to cover the towels. I stood for the whole 1 hour and 12 minutes of the cycle watching the stupid choices made by my incredibly intelligent machine. All day long, I washed all my laundry, stood looking into the machine, and watched every process; and then I began to plot how to outsmart my smart machine.
I have to admit that it took me weeks to plan and execute my strategies. This enemy was not easily subdued and this war was not effortlessly won. But I dug my heels in. I decided that extra weight would suggest that the load was fuller and needed more water. By weights, I mean a tried a plethora of items that were durable enough to endure the cycle but not so sturdy as to tear up the cloths. (Hint – large rocks from my garden were not a good selection).
From various experiments through a number of failures to final successes – I won! I outsmarted the machine. I am again lord of my laundry room and have returned to my lover-not-fighter status. Although, I must confess that I never walk past that machine without reminding it who the victor is.