Living with Uncertainty in Washing Machines and Life

We live in a world where washing machines overflow and flood houses. According to my repair man, they all work the same way and are all prone to the same problem, the one that causes them to overflow.

He blames it on the detergents. And the fabric softeners. Over time, he says, they plug the Tygon tubing that connects to the switch that senses when to shut off the water. And when that happens, the floor gets flooded.

His recommendation? Use less detergent, and use a different type. And NEVER run the washing machine when you are not there to watch it and make sure it doesn’t overflow and flood your house.

The washing machines of our world are imperfect. We think they should be better. In fact, they could be better. One could easily design them with an additional sensor that would shut them off it they started to overflow. Or maybe the detergent makers could make better detergent products. But the extra protection from an infrequent overflow would cost more, and because our washers don’t overflow every day, we wouldn’t want to pay the difference. Unless maybe our house had just been flooded.

So because no one makes that washer that will never overflow, we live with ones that might. And because our easy chairs or our desks aren’t in the laundry room, we don’t sit and watch washers to make sure they’re not going to overflow. We just live with the uncertainty, learning to allow it to be pushed from the fronts of our minds by other things.

More importantly, we want a life that we can control, a life that is surprise-free, a life that isn’t disrupted by unexpected incidents. No one makes that life, just like no one makes the washing machine that could never overflow. Things happen, some of them tragic, some of them painful, some of them even fatal. That’s the way life works.

So we learn to live with uncertainty, and the prospect of not only flooded floors, but disrupted lives. Because we have no other choice.

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