Driving Miss Daisy

By PG Jonker

[Also published on Leisure Wheels’ Blog]

Ever since I can remember I have loved driving. Be it as a passenger or as the driver, although my preference has always been to be the driver. This is something that only happened occasionally since the age of 11.

I never had much of an interest in exotic cars. Anything that could be driven was fine, as long as I could be the driver. Not that I would turn down the opportunity to drive something exotic, but I’ve had more opportunity to do old cars and farm bakkies. Although I personally consider my 1998 Mazda bakkie to be rather exotic, it seems to be a view not shared by many others, and least of all, by the rest of my family. I don’t know what it is with these people.

So, I like driving. The other night, however, in the words of the Nissan ad, I got driven.

Our washing machine, referred to in my house as Miss Daisy, tore the rubber seal of the door, resulting in my kitchen floor being under water every time we do the washing. The experts were called in and they advised that, due to the product suppliers having left the country, the replacement of the rubber would require the import of the offending rubber, and the total quote for repairs would come to about half of the price of a new washing machine. Our Miss Daisy, they advised, was up for replacement.

Not to be thwarted by something as simple as a torn rubber I decided “patch and solution” should be the answer. I mean, after all, that’s how you get your bicycle up and running again. I will show these guys that with R25 worth of supplies I will fix Miss Daisy. Now this might be a good time to mention that I am not exactly a handy kind of guy. If my car breaks down my attempts to get it running again is limited to a few loving strokes across the engine. If that does not work I need to get a mechanic in. Up to now my endeavours in this regard have not yet been successful, I may add.

In any event, maybe to cut a long story short, I may inform you that not all rubbers respond favourably to “patch and solution”. Solution does, however, bond very enthusiastically with human skin. At the end of a tiresome exercise I found myself glued to the outside of Miss Daisy, with the rubber seal still having this gaping smile where it was torn.

There comes a time one has to admit defeat. A new washing machine was installed, and Miss Daisy was moved outside the kitchen door where she stood, awaiting fresh plans.

My wife came up with the new plan. The dogs’ blankets need to be washed, thank you. You see, apart from the fact that our second hand bulldog is extremely stupid, she also wets her bed. And when she’s done with that, she simply moves over to the comfort of the Jack Russell’s bed and, if nature calls, repeats the exercise.

So arriving home after work one evening my wife told me that she started washing of the dogs’ blankets, but that I just need to fix the plug. The washing machine did such a violent song and dance in its spinning cycle that it pulled the electric cable clear from the plug. The plug was still in the wall socket, only with no cable attached to it. Our nine-year- old saw the whole incident and thought it was mighty cool. Could we maybe do it again?

So I fixed the plug and restarted the washing machine. Man, what a performance!

The moment Miss Daisy went into a spinning cycle she was dancing around like mad. It was quite a racket, too. I got on top of her, but of no avail. It sounded like she was really getting knocked up inside. She simply did her merry dance with me on top. Beginning to feel the onset of motion sickness I got off. Miss Daisy was in any event heading straight for the sink basin and I thought it a better plan to rather steer her away.

Now, even empty, a washing machine is a bit of a weight. Add the centrifugal force of the spinning drum to the mix and it becomes an untamed animal. Miss Daisy won the race to the basin, bumping against it so violently that the drainage pipe came loose, causing an additional water spill. I managed to steer her away from the basin, and did my best to keep her from damaging the wall. I could not dare leaving her to reach for the wall plug, for fear of her causing some other damage.

By the time Miss Daisy came to a standstill, I was exhausted, and somewhat shaken – literally.

It’s rather amazing, I thought, how this machine managed to do its thing inside my kitchen without breaking everything to pieces. In the current state it is clearly unusable, except if you have someone with a Code 10 driver’s license at hand to keep it from flattening everything near it. I was rather puzzled.

“But did you not fix those transit bolts that keep the tub from swinging and bouncing when in transit?” my wife asked.

“Of course not,” I responded. I mean, goodness, I’m not stupid, you know.

Later, discretely and under cover of darkness, I slipped out at the back door. I forgot: with a view of transporting Miss Daisy to a remote location, I did, in fact, fix those transit bolts. I quietly removed the bolts and started Miss Daisy up again, just to check whether the problem was solved. It was. Miss Daisy then ran like a song!

To my wife I mumbled something about having made some minor adjustments that fixed the problem.

Miss Daisy need not be driven anymore.