Two days ago we blew a fuse. I don't mean we got very angry. I mean we blew a fuse. I got up and tried to make a pot of coffee and the plaque induction cooktop would not go on. Then I discovered that the light was out in the refrigerator, and the clock display on the front of the microwave/oven combination was off. A little testing [it is a very small apartment] revealed that everything else was operative. All of the kitchen appliances were out. Well, I spent some quality time with the tiny circuit breaker panel between my desk and the door to the apartment and ascertained that there is indeed a 40 amp breaker labeled "kitchen appliances," and after waiting twenty minutes [these things, for some reason, have to think about the meaning of life for a while before they will snap back on], I managed to get the stove, the fridge, and the microwave going [in the interim, we went to the café and had coffee and croissants -- there are some compensations to being in Paris.]
Some more testing revealed that there was a short in the dishwasher. I am well aware that fixing things like dishwashers is more expensive than replacing them, so I went on line and started looking for a new appliance. The problem, as I very quickly became aware, was that the dishwasher, installed under our sink is tiny -- if we were ever to try to live large and invite a third person to dinner we would need two runs of the dishwasher to handle all the dirty dishes. Myriam Willis, the indispensable lady who arranges for the apartment to be cleaned and has repairs made when they are needed, suggested a store called Darty -- a chain of appliance stores one of which is pretty close to us on Boulevard St. Germain, just west of Boulevard St. Michel.
I slept on it, and yesterday morning girded up my loins. The first problem was to get the old dishwasher out of its nest and unhooked. This required taking off their hinges the doors that conceal the space in which the dishwasher has lived for nine years. Fortunately, I have learned how to snap these fancy hinges off, but the space is so constrained that I could not get both hinges off the left hand door, so I had to unscrew the hinge from the door. I pulled out the little dishwasher, unplugged it, unscrewed the water hose connection [very hard, as it was stuck after nine years], pulled the drain hose out of the drain pipe, and she was free. Sliding the box along the stone floor of the apartment, I got it to the door. Getting it into the courtyard posed a new problem, because the stalled construction that has partially blocked our entry for six months [that is another story] left too little room between the raised cement planter in the center of the courtyard and the fence round the construction site. But by tilting it up and pulling it along the lip of the cement planter, I was able to get it past the obstruction.
I then did something that shows a shocking lack of civic spirit. I pushed the box all the way to the street and just left it sitting on the sidewalk next to the entrance to our copropriete. In Paris, one is supposed to call the city and make an appointment for the pickup of old appliances and such, but that must be done in French, and I find that intimidating, so I just left it sitting there. If I were Maureen Dowd, I would expect an extra several centuries in Purgatory.
Off to Darty. We found an appropriate model on the floor, and when the salesman told me it would be available on June 26th, I panicked and bought the floor model on the spot. An extra ten Euros for a little collapsible dolly, and the salesman smothered the box in bubble wrap, taped it endlessly, then taped the whole objet to the dolly, and Susie and I set out for home, with me pulling the new dishwasher behind me through crowded Paris streets.
At home, I wrestled it into the apartment, we cut away the tape and bubble wrap, and I set about installing it. There were some complications that would only captivate aficionados of appliance installation, and we were done. I had done it, all within forty-eight hours of the initial electrical short.
The instructions, in French of course, are hopelessly complicated. The bloody thing takes your ecological temperature, ascertains just how much energy and water usage you can tolerate, and then adjusts itself to your preferences. As I write this, I am running it on an initial launch, empty of dishes [per the instructions for the first go round.] The machine is quietly counting down from 168 minutes, which is the duration of the standard wash.
I am irrationally proud of having diagnosed the problem, removed the old machine and installed the new one, but I really think that when I hit eighty-five I am going to let someone else do it.