The Machine Uprising

Stacey Kite

I had planned to start this year’s Write by Midnight challenge off strong, intent on tackling WBM bingo square E-2: Write or revise an entire scene, but even meeting the write-every-day goal was a challenge for me over the weekend because our appliances revolted.

First, it was the oven. It had a berserker temper tantrum, spontaneously rocketing past the 425 ºF temperature we’d asked for into self-cleaning oven territory, cremating an entire batch of biscuits on its way. Of course, that produced a lot of smoke which woke up the smoke detector, which started screaming like a hysterical banshee—which woke up Princess Kaylee.

Princess Kaylee

Obviously, I didn’t get the quiet, pre-doggy-walkabout marathon writing session I’d planned on. Instead, I only managed to write 85 words before bed and cross off T-1: Free write for 5 minutes on my card. (My eyes had finally stopped watering by then.)

Since my wonderful spouse had researched oven insanity and procured both an ECP (electric control panel) and a replacement temperature sensor, I knew I’d be spending part of the next day’s writing time assisting him with stove surgery, and the dream of E-2 disappeared. But I thought I’d still be able to get in an hour of writing after taking Kaylee on her walk. (Ha-ha.)

The refrigerator had other ideas. In an apparent bid for equal attention, it decided to piddle all over the kitchen floor during the night.

It turns out that refrigerators have a thing called a “drip line.” When water condenses inside the frig, it’s supposed to be channeled through the drip-line and out of the frig into a “drip pan” situated below the frig, where the water, once exposed to room air and temperature, can evaporate harmlessly into the kitchen’s atmosphere. But if you never clean the drip pan—which I hadn’t, because, hello, no one ever told me that was a thing—the drip line can get so filled up with stuff that it can clog. When that happens, all that condensate still winds up at the bottom of the frig, but on the inside instead of the outside.

Since our frig has the freezer drawer on the bottom, that trickling water turned into a glacier of ice, which grew silently and stealthily until it breached the lip of the freezer drawer sometime during the night. At that point, ice met room temperature air and thermodynamics happened. Drip, drip, drip onto the floor all night.

Though dealing with the remains of the glacier, the puddle and the filthy drip pan took several hours, it was straightforward—once we’d learned there was a drip pan, of course. But evidently the engineers who designed our frig didn’t consider the possibility that someone, someday might be foolish enough to not regularly pull their frig out from its cubby, unscrew the back panel and clean out the drip-pan. Because if they had, they would have made the drip line at least somewhat accessible so that it could be cleaned. In the YouTube videos, it’s always simple to find the drip line, or at least the opening for it. You take out the lower drawer, find the little hole in the back, and basically run a long pipe cleaner down it again and again until you clear the blockage. But for some reason, the people who designed our frig wanted to keep the actual location of the drip line a complete mystery and hid the opening to it behind walls of molded plastic and enameled steel with no visible means of pipe cleaner access whatsoever.

After stripping everything out of the frig and freezer—food, shelves and all removable panels—we still couldn’t find it. Eventually we resorted to dumping cup after cup of hot water into the frig until water finally started pouring out into the drip pan instead of into the freezer. It took better than six hours to get the water flowing the way it was supposed to and clean up the resultant mess. Only then was it time to start work on the stove.

At first glance, replacing the ECP looked like a gnarly job, and I saw all my wonderful writing time evaporate, like water—from a drip-pan.

The Motherboard–Eek!

But, after taking a lot of pictures, we tackled it like a team from NASA. My husband called out a description of each connector and its approximate location as he disconnected it, while I industriously transcribed the procedure, reciting it back out loud as I wrote.

“Pulling the red, multi connector on the left, now.”

“Left, red rectangular doohickey with lots of wires—check!

It went smoothly until the blue wire. It would not come off no matter how we wriggled and pulled and tugged on it. Finally, in desperation, we called my expert electrical writing consultant, my brother, Larry, the sub-station operator extraordinaire, who talked us through the precarious blue wire extraction. Shock of shocks, installing the new motherboard was easy.

After the battle with the machines, I certainly didn’t feel like writing. But it’s Write by Midnight, darn it, and I didn’t want to punk out at the start. I made myself write for fifteen minutes, checked I-2 off my bingo card and called it a win.

I’m hoping to be more productive today. I’ve got my eye on WBM bingo square I-5: Write 1,000 words. But I’m also keeping an eye on the washer. It looks like it’s planning something.

I hope your Write by Midnight experience is running smoother than mine has so far. Just to make sure it does, some day soon, after you’ve met your writing goal for the day, you might want to clean out your drip pan. That might save you hours of writing time down the road.

One response to “The Machine Uprising

  1. Fun!!!!!!!

Leave a comment. Your name and email address are not required.