Reflection 89: My Day II

April 13, 2009


(Copyright © 2009)


Yesterday I wrote articles for Friends of Taunton Bay Newsletter. Today I was going to start writing a new post to my blog right after breakfast. First, though, I had to do laundry. Which I did. But taking clothes out of the washer to put in the dryer, I noticed a blue film on the base of the rotor. What’s that? says I, testing the film with my finger. Wax. A layer of blue wax. I knew immediately what it was, and where it came from. I have dry skin, so to avoid itching, I rub an emollient on my chest, arms, and legs to soften the skin and preserve body moisture. One of the ingredients in the emollient is microcrystalline wax. Which gets on my shirts, pants, and T-shirts. Into the wash. Onto the rotor. Where it will stay until I find some way to remove it.


I have written in earlier posts that consciousness is given us as a means of dealing with unprecedented situations by turning issues of experience into appropriate behaviors. That is, to solve problems, if not verbally, then through relevant actions in the world. Well, here was a situation I had never been in before in my life. I live in town housing and share laundry facilities with over 90 other people. Who wants to load laundry into a washer coated with blue scum?


What to do? I ask at the desk for Tim, the maintenance man. He’s not in today. Then I’d like to talk with someone else. Through the door, I see John, who used to be the maintenance man but has a new job. Can I speak to John, please? He comes out and I tell him what happened. He tells me to put an “out of order” sign on the washer. I tell him I’ll go on line to search for something that will remove wax. Which I do—both make the sign and do a search for wax removers. First scrape off as much as you can, I am advised. Then clean with rubbing alcohol, denatured alcohol, dry cleaning fluid, or WD-40. I have WD-40, but can’t see myself spraying it inside a washing machine. I’ll go to the drug store and buy some rubbing alcohol. First, I scrape as much of the wax as I can with a dull knife. Which takes a while because it’s hard to see and get at the vanes on the rotor.


Of course it is snowing. The temperature is 33 degrees, but the snow isn’t supposed to turn to rain until afternoon—another four hours. I put on parka, hat, gloves, and head out. Sidewalks are coated with snow and I keep losing traction. I practice my winter one-step, which requires full attention, so I make slow progress. First to the grocery store, but I find only booze, no rubbing alcohol. Then the drug store, which claims to be open, but only partly, because it’s being remodeled. I creep to the other drug store, which has rubbing alcohol, 75% or 93%. I go for the 93%. Because of my celiac disease, I avoid contact with alcohol. I need rubber gloves. Back to the grocery to buy gloves. Then home.


Only to discover the washing machine churning away. I think it’s another resident making a statement by ignoring the “out of order” notice. Turns out it’s John, running a dilute solution of alcohol to dissolve the wax. Which it doesn’t.


While the washer is going, I check my e-mail and tend to several tasks I have under way. Which takes more time than I expect. When the washer stops, I get paper towels, pour out rubbing alcohol, and apply elbow grease. Which works, but not very well. John removes the nut holding the rotor in place, so I lift it out and scrub away. First the base of the rotor, then the vanes, then the stem. It takes almost an hour. I put the rotor back, and run an empty load with heavy-duty detergent. That ought to do it.


But I still have a problem. How am I going to do my laundry? The rash I get from dry skin hasn’t gone away. The microcrystalline wax controls it, but doesn’t cure it. I can’t go through this every time I need clean clothes. So far so good. I’ve solved the immediate problem. That is, consciousness has dealt with the novelty of the situation and gotten me this far, but I have no idea what to do next time I need to do laundry.


I haven’t been to the dermatologist for two months. I call his office and make an appointment for next Tuesday. Maybe he’s seen patients in this fix before. Beyond that, I wonder about disposable clothing I can wear and throw away. About not wearing clothes at all. About wearing worn clothes I was going to throw out anyway. About wearing yucky clothes coated with wax. For the indefinite future—maybe forever. Time to work on something else before I go batty.


It’s one o’clock—an entire morning wasted, my concentration spent. The only thing left to me is to write a post about how consciousness saved half the day at least. I wrote a post called My Day on November 4th—Election Day 2008. I’ll call this My Day II. Then I’ll make dinner, answer e-mails, and teach my adult ed class on The Great Outdoors at the high school. Consciousness under control of normal expectancy, that’ll make my day feel less hectic than it has been up till now.