In a comment to Wood's post below, SF blogger Llamaschool expressed an interest in a washer and dryer that plugs into a wall outlet and uses the sink as its water source. Llamaschool clearly hasn't seen our appliances. I would gladly walk down a dozen flights of stairs to reach a real washer/dryer.

When we learned Wood was pregnant, she gave me an order: "no more laundromats. Get me a washer/dryer or find me a new apartment." I pleaded with the landlord to put a proper voltage hookup in the garage and offered to leave the appliances behind after we moved out, but he refused. He suggested an in-apartment sink hookup model.

I didn't choose "Dutch" as my nom de blog because of some affinity for Ronald fucking Reagan. I am ethnically half Dutch and therefore genetically a cheap bastard. In the world of ethnic stereotypes, the Dutch make the Jews look like profligate spendthrift Irishmen. I come from a long line of intolerant tightwads. The Dutch Calvinists who settled the part of Michigan I'm from left the Netherlands because the government was granting rights to Jews and Catholics and their church had grown too liberal. They are perhaps the only immigrant community in North America who left their native land because the government there had grown too tolerant for them. And man, are they cheap.

So instead of doing the right thing, I did the Dutch thing. Instead of going to Sears or Home Depot or something, I scoured craigslist for weeks looking for a used apartment-sized washer/dyer combo for $200 or less. After several weeks of looking, I found one. We had to drive out past the foggy curtain of the outer sunset on a cold night, and when we got there, what did we find? Two sweaty Greek teenagers, one of whom talked like a used car salesman while the other made erotic hand gestures towards a washing machine like one of Barker's beauties on the Price Is Right. The salesman gave me this long-winded story about how they bought the appliances brand new and used them for a couple years but now their mother lives with them and they need bigger ones (as if to pepper the tale with evidence, a sharp mannish-voice barked something at them in Greek from upstairs). We fell for it hook-line-and-sinker, baby, wrote a check and lugged them out to my car.

I should have known it was a scam. Even though it was a Sunday night, somehow my check had already cleared the next morning. Plus, while I technically only know Ancient Greek, I swear at one point the Greeks smiled at each other, nodded towards us and mouthed the word for "suckers." Apparently, these two Greeks have quite a scam going. They pick up ancient, broke-down appliances from the sidewalks and "repair" them. The second time we washed a load, one of the agitator belts snapped. That sounds like a very knowledgeable conclusion, but at the time I was fucking clueless about how a washing machine worked. When I unscrewed the metal back from the machine, I wouldn't have been surprised if there was a little gnome on a stationary bike back there. I was that clueless. So with my traditional DIY spirit (read: cheapness), I set off on an internet journey to learn washing machine repair, or should I say, belt replacement. It was curious, because I didn't need to "replace" a belt at all. The agitators weren't connected with a solid rubber belt like they should have been. The Greeks had "repaired" the machine by using a scrunchy. Yes, they stretched a scrunchy between the knobs on the backs of the agitators and sealed the back of the machine up before they sold it to us. It took six trips to the hardware store, but eventually I was able to find a real belt. It worked fine.

A few weeks later, the dryer stopped working. Another belt problem? You betcha! When I removed the back of the dryer, I learned they had replaced the broken belt that went around the tumbler with a fucking shoelace. Six more trips back and forth to the hardware store, and I was able to repair the dryer. It still works.

Let me put this in perspective. At my job, they somehow charge the clients $285 an hour for what I do. I spent at least eight hours trying to figure out how to fix those damn machines. That's $2280 of my time. It's an interesting thing about the Dutch. We have no concept of the term "opportunity costs." A Dutchman will never do "Wash'n'fold." This is also beyond his comprehension.

During the course of my internet research, I learned that our machine models were last manufactured in 1973. That means they were at least four years older than I am. The interesting thing about these machines is that the wash and spin cycles are performed in different compartments, meaning you have to take your load out of the washing compartment, put it in the spinner, drain the washing compartment, fill it with rinse water, run a rinse cycle, then put the load in the spinner again to spin. It is a very wet process. And I just did seven loads. That's seven wash cycles, seven rinse cycles, and fourteen spin cycles. This is some Laura Ingalls Wilder shit.

And during the last few spin cycles, I could tell that the spinner motor is on its last leg. I am not fucking with that shit.

I can't wait for the day when we buy a nice house that has room and hookups for a nice new set of appliances, and I can post an ad on craigslist: "Almost new washer/dryer combo, great for small apartments." $175.

A dutchman understands depreciation value.