the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Containing a capital letter or two

Let me just set the stage by saying that the longest stretch of sleep I’ve had in the last twelve weeks was that one Wednesday night when Marlo forgot who she was for a second and slept for a solid four hours. That’s it. Since then it’s been two hours here, thirty minutes there, just enough to want to walk outside and play hopscotch in the middle of I-80.

And this is not an excuse, it’s just context. And you know what? I’m going to take you on a tour of what I go through when I sit down to write. I’m sorry there’s no train to take you on this trip, but there are animatronic monkeys and the person sitting next to you is probably wearing socks with his sandals and smells like a giant garlic burp. WELCOME TO MY MIND.

Someone is going to read that first paragraph and send me an email telling me that Marlo should be sleeping through the night already and that I’m doing it all wrong. And I’m going to want to say, hey you, you the person who is so itchy to give me that unsolicited advice about my baby? Some people think that I’m a bully, and today I’m going to make their day because: SHUT UP. Go outside and smoke a cigarette before you come back to your keyboard. Except, I can’t write that. You know why? Because 1) BULLY! and 2) someone will read that and send me an outraged email that I have encouraged someone to engage in such dangerous behavior, don’t you know their uncle died of lung cancer? THEY WILL NEVER READ ME AGAIN.

It happens every single time I write something. Every. Single. Time. I am so in tune with human nature now that I’ve been dealing with it for eight and a half years that I can predict what someone will send me in an email in response to a word or sentence or paragraph that I’ve written that is totally and completely innocuous. At times I feel like an accidental puppeteer.

And the email inevitably ends with one of the following:

1) I AM DONE!

2) YOU’VE CROSSED THE LINE NOW!

3) CONSIDER YOURSELF REMOVED FROM MY RSS READER!

4) UNFOLLOW!

5) Do you have any naked pictures of yourself?

That huge tangent to say: I am sleep deprived. A lot. Because I live with an infant. An infant who does not yet sleep in large chunks of time. But you know what she does do? You’ll never guess. Except you probably will because guess whose website you’re reading? Yeah, that woman. So let’s just get this over with shall we? Are you ready? Yes? Okay, here goes:

Marlo is an Olympic Pooper.

There is no more skilled or dextrous or prolific pooper in the world. In fact, there is no diaper or piece of clothing or blanket that can contain her. Once or twice every single day she poops so magnificently that she soils first: her diaper; second: whatever she is wearing; third: the person or object upon which she is lying. Meaning that a large portion of our day is dedicated to cleaning up that poop. I do not mind this at all because I like to encourage the talents of my children in any way I can.

I am not complaining about the sleep deprivation or the pooping. In fact, that’s why I got pregnant. I wanted to live through it again, and since I’m feeling so much better this time around I’m crazy enough to admit that I’m loving it. Yeah, I don’t get a lot of sleep. It can make me cranky from time to time, but in the middle of the night when it is happening it doesn’t bother me much because she is so soft and cuddly and smells like the farts of unicorns drunk on happiness and Sprite.

However, we did a lot to prepare for the way in which Marlo was going to disrupt our lives. One of those things was to invest in a new washing machine because the one that’d we’d had for the last six years, a Kenmore Elite HE3 frontloader, was an absolute piece of crap. CAH-RAP. It once flooded the basement in our old house, and we had to get it fixed. And then seven other times, SEVEN, onetwothreefourfivesixSEVEN, SEVEN OTHER TIMES, we had to get it fixed. And then it would still randomly fill up with water. Just because. I had my theories as to why, maybe because of all those naughty thoughts I had about David Smith in high school and the way my girl parts felt when he kissed me for the first time, and I felt so bad about it I told my mom and she LAUGHED AT ME. But I don’t think God has ever forgiven me for that teenage weakness. And he likes to fuck with people through their appliances. OH YOU KNOW HE DOES.

So we did some research, and we saved some money. Because I wanted to buy a washing machine that I didn’t have to worry about, a machine I didn’t have to think about, because I knew that having an infant meant that we’d be living underneath a mountain of laundry. Jon spent many nights reading reviews and forums and consumer sites, and we eventually settled on a Maytag Performance Series 4.4 Cu. Ft. IEC Capacity Front Load Steam Washer that retails for $1,599. Our local Dan’s Maytag store was running a sale, so we got ours for $1,300 and then splurged on the 10-yr warranty. OK LET ME RANT FOR A SECOND:

This is where some of you are all, WTF? You spent how much on a washing machine? Don’t you know that some of us don’t even have washing machines? Don’t you know that some of us have to drag our five loads of laundry AND our three kids down to the laundromat every week? HOW DARE YOU EVEN WRITE AND/OR COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR PRECIOUS LITTLE WASHING MACHINE.

And you can give me a goddamn break. It’s not like we said, you know what? Let’s just go spend fourteen hundred dollars today! It’ll be fun! Where can we go? An appliance store! Hurry, let me change into my diamond-studded panties and climb into our golden chariot! Have the local police shut down traffic so that we don’t have to maneuver around the little people! Also, where is Clive Owen and that blow job I paid for?

You know what we did do? We had a washing machine fund. Where we put a little money here and there, and we waited until we had enough in it to make such a purchase. Because I was raised by a man who taught me the value of doing that kind of thing. Thank you, Michael Hamilton.

Also, I paid $1,300 for an appliance. And bought the 10-yr warranty. That damn thing better work, so help me god. Why? BECAUSE I PAID $1,300 FOR IT. AND IT’S BRAND NEW. That’s $1,300 I could have spent elsewhere, because we live in America, and that’s how this economy works. So when I get upset about A BRAND NEW $1,300 APPLIANCE NOT WORKING, it’s not like I’m getting upset about the fact that my butler has bad breath.

Are there other, more important issues in this world? Of course there are. There is always something more important. Period. But if you’re going to tell me not to complain that my brand new appliance THAT COST ME $1,300 DOESN’T WORK then you aren’t ever allowed to complain about anything whatsoever. Do you have a headache? SHUT UP. HOW DARE YOU. Some kid in war-torn Iraq DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A HEAD.

Oooh, that last one is going to get me some great email. I’VE CROSSED THE LINE NOW! UNFOLLOW!

(Also, I’ve just upset my headless readers.)

So, yeah. The damn thing broke a week after it was delivered. Started giving us this error reading and wouldn’t fill up with water. Which was the exact opposite problem we had with the previous washer. SEE. GOD’S ANGRY.

So we called, complained, and they sent out a repairman. He shows up three days later and is all, yeah, gonna have to order parts. That’s going to take another seven to ten days.

So that’s three days plus seven to ten days equals LOTS OF DAYS.

In the meantime, if we wanted to get a load of laundry done, we had to jury-rig the thing, reach our hand up and inside a certain compartment and jiggle a part. And then maybe it might work. Or not. We never knew. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it did not. And so one load of laundry took us THREE DAYS to get done.

WE HAD TO JURY-RIG A $1,300 BRAND NEW WASHING MACHINE. Please tell me you’re shaking your head. Right? RIGHT?

I’ve got a pile of milk-stained shirts sitting in a corner, SPOILING, because that’s what milk does, IT SPOILS, CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE THE SMELL. And an Olympic Baby Pooper. Onesie after onesie after onesie stacking up in the washroom, six pairs of Jon’s pants stained, several pairs of my shorts, a rug, seven towels…. it goes on and on. And every time we start a load of laundry we’d gather around in prayer, going, please, oh please, don’t give us the error, please, just this time, please—ERROR, ERROR, ERROR.

Ten days later the repairman shows up to fix the machine because the part has been delivered, and oops! Guess he didn’t order all the parts he needed! Going to have to order more parts! Another seven to ten days!

Okay. Breathe. Maybe throw some darts. At squirrels.

(I’ve just upset the squirrel people.)

That’s three days plus ten days plus another seven to ten days equals YOU HAVE GOT TO BE SHITTING ME.

So I’ve got at least eight candles burning in the house at all times to combat the smell of spoiled milk and baby poop, and someone is manning the machine at all times to see if it is going to magically fill with water. And nine times out of ten it doesn’t. But that tenth time when it does? Oh, sweet and delicious tenth time? We took turns having sex with the washing machine. There I said it. Sometimes naked. Sometimes fully clothed. And we forgave each other for the adultery BECAUSE IT WAS JUST SO GOOD.

So. Here’s where things start to heat up, because that repairman calls on the morning that we have Marlo’s two-month doctor’s visit scheduled. Jon tells him we have to be at the clinic at 11:30 AM to have her immunized, we don’t know how long we’ll be there, we don’t expect any delays, but you know how doctor’s visits can go…

(I’ve just upset the vaccination people.)

Repairman says he’s got a slot from 12 to 2 open.

So. Okay. You guys. Let’s not even talk about the part where my pediatrician lets me know that he’s found my website and knows who I am, or about how the German nurse comes in, asks what my book is about, and when I tell her it’s about pregnancy and postpartum depression she goes, “Vell, some of sees veh-mon, seys goes VACKO!”

(I’ve just upset the Germans.)

And Marlo is smiling and giggling, and I’m purposefully not near her, but there I go, I can’t help myself, and when the nurse jabs her leg with the first needle I peek over her shoulder at Marlo’s face, AND HOW HAVE YOU PEOPLE BEEN DOING THIS? You people who have kids that look like you? It was like I was looking in the mirror and there I am SCREAMING. She has never cried or screamed so hard in the short time she’s been alive, and she looked just like me when she did it. So disturbing and heartbreaking and there I am just bawling along with her. TWILIGHT ZONE WEIRD.

And while all of this is going on my assistant is texting me frantically that the repairman has shown up, and because Jon isn’t there to help him move the dryer to get to the washing machine, he’s going to leave.

He. Is. Going. To. Leave.

OH NO HE ISN’T.

And I give her my permission to sit on top of him, grab him, head butt him, whatever she has to do to get him to stay, and she can do it in my name, I will take the blame, because I am not going another day with a broken $1,300 washing machine. And that’s what had to happen, she had to physically grab his arm and say, please, they’re in the car on the way here, it’s only been twenty minutes, please.

Please. She begged him. She begged him. And I am going to feel bad about putting her in that position for quite some time. She had to grab the arm of a strange man and beg him to stay. Katey, I am so so sorry I put you in that position.

Dude had to wait TWENTY MINUTES and was pissed and rude, and you know what? I HAD NO SYMPATHY. He’s the one who didn’t order the right parts in the first place and here I’ve gone HOW MANY DAYS? Three plus ten plus ten plus TOO MANY DAYS TO COUNT WITH A BROKEN $1,300 WASHING MACHINE.

Okay, remember. I’m sleep deprived. CONTEXT.

So we get home, Jon runs downstairs, helps the dude move the dryer, and we get our washing machine fixed, right? RIGHT?

WRONG.

W.R.O.N.G.

If I could speak seventeen different languages I would type the word WRONG in those seventeen languages right here for you right now BECAUSE THAT’S HOW WRONG.

He didn’t fix it. Dude did not fix our machine. Because we go to do a load of laundry and guess what? ERROR. SAME FUCKING ERROR.

And that is it. I am done. I am so done. And because I have worked with the public before, because I have been on the other side of the phone, I take a walk around the block, have a large glass of water and then sit calmly on my couch. And then I pick up the phone and I make a phone call.

First I call the place where we bought the machine. And he cannot help me, I have to call their service department. So I call the service department, explain in great detail what has happened, and she says that Maytag has a policy that they will not replace a brand new machine unless it is documented that someone has tried to fix it at least three times. WHA?? WHA-HAAA? And I tell her that someone has been out to my house three times, and she says, yeah, but he’s only tried to fix it once.

Oh my Lord God IN HEAVEN. SHUT UP. You’re kidding me, right? The three times he’s been out here do not count? No. And the fact that this machine has not worked for two months? THAT doesn’t count? No. And the fact that we bought the 10-yr-warranty? ALL OF THESE THINGS? DO YOU SEE THESE THINGS?

No.

So what you’re telling me is that I have to make an appointment to have it looked at again? And the earliest someone can come look at it is in three to five days? And in the meantime, how am I supposed to get my laundry done? With a rock in a bucket outside.

(I’ve just upset the Mormon pioneers.)

So I call Maytag. The Maytag. The Mothership. And the agent I get after working through a five-minute maze of PRESS THIS and SAY THIS and PLEASE HOLD is the snootiest customer service person I have ever talked to in my life. And I let her know the entire story, front to back, and that while I’m really upset and sleep deprived, I’m not mad at her because I know it’s not her fault. And she keeps saying, yeah, can’t really help you, you’re going to have to call and have the history faxed over, and then we’ll take a look, and even then we’ll schedule someone to come take a look, maybe in three to five days?

Why can you not give me a working washing machine in the meantime while you figure out what is wrong with the brand new one that is sitting there broken in my laundry room? Why? I’ll take any machine. Any working machine. Give me a machine that works while you figure out why THAT BRAND NEW ONE DOESN’T WORK.

No.

Okay then, I say, almost begging at this point, almost to the point of tears, is there anyone I can talk to who might see what I’ve been through and understand? And here’s where I say, do you know what Twitter is? Because I have over a million followers on Twitter. If I say something about my terrible experience on Twitter do you think someone will help me? And she says in the most condescending tone and hiss ever uttered, “Yes, I know what Twitter is. And no, that will not matter.”

That is what she said to me.

So I asked if I could please speak to her supervisor. And I am not even kidding she goes, “Uggh. Fine. Hold, then.”

She UGGGH’ed me.

(I’ve just upset the Cro-Magnons.)

And then I spend the next fifteen minutes giving my story to her supervisor, pleading for someone to fix my washing machine today or at least give me a working machine in the meantime, and he says no, but maybe we’ll schedule someone to come take a look, maybe in three to five days?

Okay then. I hang up the phone, calmly walk over to my computer, pull up a browser and write this twitter:

And then I wrote this one:

And then another:

And another:

And then finally:

OH YES I DID.

Have I mentioned the part where I’m sleep deprived?

And oh dear, did I stir up some waves. Because I guess calling out a huge corporation on their shitty service is somehow being a bully. Being angry, CAPITAL LETTER ANGRY, that they will not make good on my purchase is somehow an abuse of my power. How dare I use Twitter this way.

Some say that I was calling for an all out boycott, and that I was disregarding the responsibility of my power. I give my readers a little more credit than that, and I think most of my readers are gracious enough to give me the benefit of the doubt, willing to believe that I was angry and ranting, and that I would eventually give them the whole story. Which I continued to do on Twitter as it unfolded (and continues to unfold as I write this).

I say, we should ALL use Twitter or whatever means is available to us this way. Not just me, but you and you and you. Until they stop treating us this way. It is not okay. If this is what it takes to get my BRAND NEW $1,300 WASHING MACHINE FIXED? Holy God! Seriously! This is capitalism, y’all. This is how it works. I AM NOT SATISFIED. I DEMAND BETTER SERVICE. PERIOD. So what if I’m on a list that includes Oprah and Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer. Would they scream about crappy service this way? IF NOT, THEY TOTALLY SHOULD! Come on, Katie! SCREAM! LET IT OUT! But the thing is, Katie didn’t make it on that list because she would scream like that. I am on that list SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE I WILL.

And to think, our health care system is left to the same devices. Thank god it’s just my washing machine AND NOT MY FUCKING KIDNEY.

Within hours I am contacted by several big name appliance stores on Twitter offering their services, except none of them can really help because I’m trying to work with Maytag directly. And then a few hours after that I get a message from @WhirlpoolCorp who I guess own Maytag, and I send them my phone number and I wait. And wait. And wait.

And then the following morning I get a phone call from Jeff Piraino, manager of the executive offices of Whirlpool Corporation in Michigan.

BOO-YAH!

That, my friends, is service.

And he is incredibly nice, very apologetic, very helpful, and like any good therapist listens to why I am so upset. And the kicker: HE UNDERSTANDS WHY. So then he himself calls a different repair company and has a guy come out within the hour to look at the machine. And so I go put on a nursing bra to look presentable.

That guy assesses immediately that three parts need to be replaced, and he and Jeff at the headquarters in Michigan work it out that the parts will be overnighted and he can come back today and fix it. (currently waiting for him… UPDATE: he is here… waiting… waiting…FIXED! He FIXED IT! He FIXED IT! RAIN CAME BACK! RAIN CAME BACK!)

Oh my God, this is all I ever wanted. Seriously. Thank you Maytag. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jeff Piraino. My $1,300 washing machine is now working, and I can finally shut up about it. THE INTERNET THANKS YOU.

IN THE MEANTIME…..

You’re not going to believe this. You guys, even though I’m wearing really dirty clothes and the house smells like poop, I have been BEAMING, literally shining light, there are vibrant yellow rays shooting out of the windows of the house because of what I’m about to tell you.

So.

I’m sitting here yesterday getting yelled at on Twitter — BULLY! DOUCHEBAG! — when I get an email from a guy named Jason Avila who works for Bosch. Yes, THAT Bosch. And they want to give me a free washing machine of my choice. OF MY CHOICE. Who WOULDN’T take up that offer. Except, I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel right. My brain just wouldn’t let me feel okay about it. And I mention on Twitter that I’m being offered free appliances when a woman with the handle @MommyMelee (here is her website) suggests that this might be a good opportunity for me to hook up a shelter with a free washing machine. And I give her full credit for this idea, and I feel like crap that I didn’t think of it in the first place. I blame the smell of poop rotting out half of my skull but will go forward with an eye to end every dispute in as charitable a manner.

So I talk to the guy at Bosch, tell him that since I can afford the $1,300 I spent on that washer I’d love it if they’d be willing to donate a free machine to a local Salt Lake City shelter instead, and he doesn’t see why not. So I do some looking around, find a place called the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake, make a call, and DO THEY EVER NEED THE HELP. I almost started bawling right there on the phone. All that stress and name-calling and pacing the floor yesterday…

You guys, Bosch is donating a brand new washer AND DRYER to the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake. GO @BOSCHAPPLIANCES!!!!

That is the power of Twitter.

You go right ahead and call me a bully, and you may totally disagree with the way I handled this, and you go right ahead and UNFOLLOW! But having this be the end to the story, well I’ll gladly let that be what the B. stands for in Heather B. Armstrong.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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