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A battle of wills with the new washing machine

Ken More The New Washing Machine sat there, freshly loaded with dirty clothing, and went: "Hummmmmmmuuuhhh!" "Hummmmmmmmmuuhhh!" He did this several times. Each hum ended with a kind of grunt. Hum-grunt. Hum-grunt. Like that.

What are you doing, I asked him?

He hummed a couple more times and said: "I'm checking out the spatial distribution of your dirty clothes." His voice had very little inflection in it. Matter of fact, he sounded a lot like the Homeland Security people at the airport who tell you to raise your arms and walk around in your socks.

About then, I spied a sock that hadn't gotten into the washing machine. I tried to get the lid open. Red lights came on. It started blinking.

Ken More The New Washing Machine said to me, in that same kind-of-bored-and- hoping-you'd-give-them-something-to-be-excited-about voice, "Don't do that, or else."

I backed up a couple of steps and asked why not.

"Because," he said, "that's not part of my protocol, and if it's not part of my protocol, you cannot do that."

But how, I asked him, do I get this sock in?

He just kept humming and grunting. I think he was trying to annoy me, and doing a fair job of accomplishing it. I reached out and tried to lift the lid, and as I expected, it was locked shut. I want, I told Ken More, to see how much water is in you.

"You have me set on medium load, so there is a medium amount of water inside me," he replied, still in that kind of don't-mess-with-me voice.

I don't care, I told him, I need to see how high up a medium setting is. Boy, right about them, I was really missing General Electric The Washing Machine. He was cranky, and authoritarian, and constantly tying my clothing in knots, but opening him up to see what was going on in there wasn't treated like a national emergency. I hadn't heard from him in several days.

He was somewhere in Japan, traveling on a railroad car disguised as scrap metal, which was working out really well, because eventually, he was going to end up in a Honda or a Toyota, probably, and would tell me which of them was the best car to buy. Once I knew that, I could bring him home again and drive him around.

That would be fun. Boy, it would really bug him. He used to talk about dropping The Big One on Hiroshima in, as he put it, "Double-you, double-you two." Now, chances were, everyone that would be around him in that car, Man Ifold, Muff Ler, and F.W. (Front Wheel) Drive, just to name a few, would be talking in Japanese.

I almost feel sorry for how his life is going to change.

Almost. I'm still untying my shorts and searching for lost socks.

At the rate Ken More was irritating me, maybe he'd be on his way to The Far East a lot sooner, also.

My True Love just contributed her feelings about a machine supposedly built to serve humankind that wouldn't open up and reveal what's going on inside. The cleaned up version of what she said, when she found out that Mr. More was overly private about his interior, went something like this: "@#$%^&**&^%$#!!!!!!!"

You must leave it to your imagination just exactly how she feels about all this.

I was talking to someone else who said he tried to override the safety lock-up switch, and failed. No matter what he tried, once he changed the protocol, everything quit.

I could have told him that. Computer boards can be designed and programmed to a state just shy of obnoxious. Which was right where Ken More The New Washing Machine seemed to be.

Suddenly, he said: "Step back of the line!" I looked around, but I couldn't see any line.

I was just about to ask him why, when he said, in a big voice: "We have a problem step away from danger!" I backed up all the way to the hanging clothes, digging out my cell phone, ready to call the dealer and tell him to come get this thing out of here. What the heck was going on?

He hummed and grunted some more, twisted and turned and danced back and forth on his feet, flipped his lid a couple of times. (That was really weird, in case you don't know.)

A jackknife, a ballpoint pen, and three screws from the job I had been doing yesterday came flying out and landed on the floor.

Ken More burped a contented burp, closed his lid, and began humming again.

Me? I got out of there, and began calling General Electric.

I didn't need another washing machine.

I needed protection.