Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 05.28.05
Stanstead, Quebec


The dryer with something extra

Our new dryer's not exactly April Fresh. More like May Manure.

It's a garage sale dryer, which means we know it's about ten years old but we don't know what unsavoury non-drying purposes it might have been put to during that time.

Such is the way of garage sales. Never mind "Buyer beware." Try "Buyer, walk away slowly."

But most of us can't resist. We're suckers for deals, even if that means buying items that should by rights be in the garbage. Hey, we even go for stuff already in the garbage.

For example, one evening about two years ago, I put an old office chair out to the trash. The next morning, someone had taken it. About a month ago, I was walking up our street when I saw that very same chair in someone else's trash. And, yes, the next morning it was gone from the pile. I figure at this rate, in ten years the chair will have made its way to Ayer's Cliff.

Usually, I'm pretty immune to the allure of the garage sale. Yes, I could spend $2 on a VHS copy of The Muppets Go to Defcon-1. But even cheaper is not spending that $2 and saving it for something I really need, like a bazooka.

I'm also lousy at haggling. Some people can work a price down to the point where the seller is paying the buyer to haul the item away. Me, if it says $5 for the cracked lazy Susan spice rack with the mystery stain, I pay $5 for the cracked lazy Susan spice rack with the mystery stain.

The same is true the other way.

We've had one official yard sale at our house, which is about as exposed as you can get on your front lawn, not counting the day Deb cut my hair with electric sheers out on our front steps; yup, you could almost here the banjos playing in the background. That yard sale was okay but I had no resistance against the hagglers.

"I'll give you $4 for the combo toilet plunger-scrubber but your first-born has to mow my lawn once a week for the next three summers."

"Uh, okay."

And so, the dryer. The owner was asking $60 so we paid $60. Our old dryer had died and this looked like a good replacement, though we couldn't plug it in before buying it and it had been sitting in a garage unused for six years. On the assurance of the owner, who said we could bring it back if we weren't happy, we put it on a friend's truck and brought it home.

I noticed at the time that there was a funny smell.

"Hmmm," I thought, "I think there's been a cat around it. Oh well, that'll fade."

We got it home and stuck it in the basement. Phew! Still kind of stinky.

The next morning, a horrible thought popped into my head: "Wait a minute. I know that smell. That's not a cat smell. That's a dead-thing smell!"

Sure enough, I found a mouse nest underneath the lint trap. I pulled out the nest (no mice, dead or alive), vacuumed up the droppings, pulled off the back of the dryer, vacuumed there (found $1.62 in change!) and peeked in all crevices and opening. No dead thing. But still, the smell persisted.

I tried running the dryer with a fabric softener sheet. But this just resulted in a Spring Rain dead-thing smell. I don't know if there even is something dead in there. If not, I'm hoping airing it out will make the smell eventually go away. If there is, maybe running the dryer for a few days will turn the corpse into jerky.

"So," you're saying, "why not just take the dryer back?" Well, you see, I have to balance the cost-benefit ratio of finding a truck, hauling the dryer up the stairs and across town, and haggling with the owner. Plus, we'll still be without a dryer. And, hey, it may be a stinky dryer but it was only 60 bucks!