Our washing machine stopped working last week. Towards the end of the regular wash cycle it started beeping and an error message flashed on the screen.

After draining the machine manually, washing the clothes at the laundromat, and checking to make sure everything was running fine (it seemed to be), we tried again. Same result. So we called a washing machine repairman. He came, declared there was nothing wrong with it, and that it must be a problem with the drain. So we called a plumber to clear the drain and tried to wash the clothes again. Same result.

I called back, and in rather clipped tones, suggested they come back and this time actually fix the machine. They came back, and as I was unable to be home at that time, we had our neighbour let them in (there were two guys this time). After futzing about with it for a few minutes, they declared the machine in perfect running order.

We tried to use it again later that day. Same soapy clothes when the machine stopped mid-cycle and flashed that error message.

Now Chiara called the repair service back. The guy declared that, in his professional opinion, the machine was absolutely fine. She replied that in her personal opinion, well-supported by OBJECTIVE FACTS, the washing machine was certainly not fixed. (It’s also worth noting that in their two visits they didn’t really do anything that could actually be called fixing, so this result shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone).

At that point, this self-professed repairman suggested that well, I guess, maybe the computer in the machine is broken, it’s not worth repairing, and that we should get a new one.

The landlord is now in the process of getting a new machine. For which we’re quite pleased, as there is a what-cannot-for-much-longer-be-called-a-molehill of laundry waiting to be done.

But back to the repair situation.

A person fixing a washing machine. Using tools,

Even given the training and the tools, I would likely not be able to fix a washing machine. But then again: IT’S NOT MY JOB. So it’s more than a little frustrating that someone purporting to do this activity professionally would make two trips out to declare a decidedly non-functioning washing machine fit and fine. And then require convincing to believe that it doesn’t work. So I humbly suggest that in future the repair man (and technicians in general) test to see that equipment functions before giving an assessment.

In general, testing, trying and generally being sure of what you’ve done, before making your assessment is a pretty good way to operate. In the same way that surgeons check vitals and mechanics actually turn a car on, technicians should test the thing they’re working on before making a decision on the success of their operation.

It seems so obvious you wouldn’t think the point needs to be made. And yet, apparently, it does.