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Saturday, February 6, 2016

the dryer fiasco

The majority of households in Taiwan do not have dryers, including ours (until today). The majority of people hang their laundry to dry, either on porches, rooftops or inside. But Taiwan truly does have a harsh climate. During the majority of the spring, summer and fall months, the humidity is unreal. It can take days for jeans to dry. In the winter, it can be cold and still very humid. Those jeans still take days to dry. As the sole laundry doer of our household, I decided that I was fed up with putting on damp clothes that smelled musty. I had been doing it for nearly 4 years, and I had had enough of it.

So, last Tuesday, we bought a Whirlpool dryer.

It was quite an ordeal.

First, we went to Costco on Sunday. There, the Whirlpool we wanted was on display. After waiting a long time to find a salesperson on the floor who could speak English, we were told that our model was sold out. To give you perspective, there was our model, which was $500 USD, and then just one other model, a deluxe Whirlpool that cost more than $1,000 USD.

So, no. We were not going to buy the more expensive model.

The sales associate told us to come back on Tuesday because maybe another shipment would be in. When we told him we could wait around for him to verify when another shipment would definitely be in, it was clear he did not understand us. Slightly frustrated, we left (but only after getting the lemon slushy Costco has perfected).

Tuesday, there we found ourselves again at Costco. This time it took forever to find a salesperson on the floor who spoke English, and when we pointed at the dryer, she simply said in Chinese: mei you, which means "don't have".

My husband rallied and drove us to 3C, a store that sells all kinds of things, including the very same Whirlpool dryer for the very same price. Luckily, he knew this because when we went there to buy something for his classroom, he happened to see it.

We were shocked by our luck when the very first person we found working the floor not only spoke English, but was very excited to use his English to converse with us! Even luckier, we discovered that the only model left was the one on display, but that it did in fact work perfectly and we could have it delivered to our apartment on Thursday, just two short days later. He took down our phone number, scheduled a drop off time between 10 and noon and we left feeling on top of the world.

But then Thursday rolled around and no dryer was delivered.

So, at 5pm, Sean scooted to the store to figure out what went wrong. Unfortunately. the very helpful man working the floor on Tuesday was nowhere to be found, and to make matters worse, it became very apparent that none of his colleagues spoke English. After an excruciating and completely nonsensical "conversation" via Google translate, Sean left with an understanding that maybe it would be delivered on Friday.

But then Friday came and went and no dryer came.

The laundry situation at our house was out of control. Knowing I paid $500 for a dryer, I refused to do another load of laundry if it meant I had to hang the clothes to dry.

I wanted my dryer!

We entered crisis mode today, Saturday, because Taiwan's most important holiday, Chinese New Year, starts on Sunday and would not officially end for days. We knew that if we didn't get our dryer today, we probably wouldn't get it until the end of next week because everything closes for the new year.

Cue my husband saying "Let's just bring it back with the scooter".

Now we have done some pretty impressive (or stupid, perhaps) things with our scooter, like: move all of our belongings from one apartment to another, bring home a huge kitchen carpet from the store, bring a huge dehumidifier home from the store, bring over sized pieces of wood home from the store and on and on, so I was no stranger to this concept, but, this was a dryer!

Not to be deterred, my husband found our dolly and we practiced with the old, broken dryer that has been sitting in our apartment for years. He tied it to the dolly with ropes, and then I got on the scooter to drive, he got on behind me, and we scooted very slowly around the loop that is my neighborhood, my husband holding on to the loud, angry and unstable dolly that was certainly not meant to be used as a road vehicle.

A security guard and two neighbors caught us in the act. I can only imagine how stupid we looked. However, we made it successfully back to the apartment and decided: why the heck not? Sure, it was the day before the holidays. Sure, everyone was more road ragey than usual (I was honked at and almost run off the road a few times yesterday when going to the bank). Sure, the traffic would be really bad and intense. And sure, we would look like complete morons.

But that has never stopped us from doing something in the past, so we brought the old dryer back to our apartment and scooted to 3C with the dolly and rope, ready to take matters into our own hands.

We walked in to the store and lo and behold: our perfect English speaker from Tuesday was there, ready to save the day and incredulous that the dryer was still in the store and not in our apartment.

He asked us what the rope and dolly was for, and then burst out laughing when we told him we were going to scoot the darn dryer back to our apartment.

And as soon as he could collect himself, he called us an over sized taxi and 10 minutes later we and the dryer were in our apartment. 
Our practice round of scooting with a large appliance-- everyone who saw us driving down the street was confused & amused. I can't blame them. 

Sometimes, being an expat is weird.

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  1. That is a great post. After living in Taiwan a few years myself, I totally relate. What I particularly like is that I see in your pictures that you too have some of those velcro straps that they sell in 99 cent stores in Taiwan. Those are so great! I have used them in many many situations over the past few years. I also like your ingenuity in solving this problem, even though at the end you didn't have to put the plan into action.

    1. Thanks! My husband has found my great uses for those ties!