The Washing Machine Salesman

January 02, 2019

In December the washing machine my wife and I bought 10 years ago started failing again on nearly every wash. We threw $400 at it a couple years ago but the dreaded F20 error is a common recurring problem with our particular unit. We decided to cut our losses and replace the units.

We’ve spent nearly a month doing the proper research, evaluating options, and I even made a spreadsheet. Kids in tow, we headed up to Lowes our to see in person the washer and dryers we’d looked at and priced out on the internet. Meandering around the warehouse, we didn’t find the droids we were looking for, so we packed the kids back up and went to (of all places) Best Buy.

I think it’s somewhat ironic that Best Buy sells appliances now; the ghost of Sears lives on in Best Buy. We made our way back to the washer and dryer section, behind the TVs, momentarily being sucked in by the gravity of the Minecraft aisle. We posted up near the sleek, modern, clean lined, futuristic units we were convinced about online and waited for a sales associate.

Soon an older gentleman named Jim approached us and quickly waved his hands and said “You don’t want those, you want these.” Jim had an air of familiarity about him, like an older uncle you trust to tell it to you straight. We explained the problems with our old units and he was very familiar with the F20 error and, as salesmen do, gave us a taste of his pedigree working at Lowes for some number of years as well as the number of dogs he owns to prove that this unit he’s advocating for can certainly wash dog beds, which was a concern of ours.

We aligned to Jim’s advice, saving nearly a thousand dollars in cosmetic downgrades. As Jim walked away to process our order, my wife and I separately but simultaneously put it together that this man, Jim, was the same person who sold us our original washer and dryer units 10 years ago!

Here we were 10 years down the line on the opposite end of town in a different big box chain store talking to the same man who helped us out when we were young newlyweds moving into our first house. What are the odds! It instantly connected us to a previous point in time where we were babies, house poor and sleeping on a mattress on the floor of our new house. It made us both realize how much has changed for us and how much we’ve grown over the last 10 years.

In a town like Austin where skyline is becoming more and more unfamiliar each time I look at downtown, I think I needed this to make the world feel smaller. I’m thankful for that. And while this is maybe just an unlikely coincidence, it feels good to have a trivial cosmic crossover experience like this heading into 2019.