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May 21, 2004
Wash-day Blues

Away with war! Down with depression!

Let us, instead, contemplate the humble sock. Beauteous when sorted, matched, and stored happily in an accessible cabinet, but internationally recognized to be something of a problem at the moment you take it off your little foot.

Read this. I'll wait.

Okay, now go back and follow the links in the comments and read them as well.

Done? Excellent. We progress.

I can assure our European brothers that USofA apartment life is equally as frustrating.

While our amenity installations exceed theirs (four washers/four dryers in our building for 46 apartments, but no "drying room" unless you use your living room and a space heater), the condition of the laundry room is a constant irritation.

The room is cleaned once a week and I estimate it takes approximately 32 minutes before someone spills laundry soap or fabric softener on a machine. To be fair, in that 32 minute interval, the room is a pleasure to use.

At other times… not so much.

In spite of a large, in fact hugely oversized, trash can, many people prefer to empty the dryer lint traps on the floor. I can only assume they're hoping the globs of lint will soak up the runoff from the one perpetually leaking washer.

For reasons I've never quite understood, the spacious folding table was recently removed and a narrow, shelf-like arrangement installed in its place. This shelf is just wide enough to give you the illusion that you can balance your laundry basket on it. In fact, the shelf is designed at such an angle that there's a precise, 15-second interval before said basket dumps onto the floor. Just enough time for you to get too far away to catch it.

And, of course, as you're scrabbling on the floor to pick up your $15 bottle of laundry soap before it all runs into the floor drain, someone else walks in the door, sees you, and checks their watch.

Yep. It's been 32 minutes since the cleaners left the room.

Your other choices are to put your basket on the floor and pick up a fair amount of soggy lint with which to decorate your apartment, or sit it in the inexplicably oversized sink that looks as though it's been used to clean tarred roof tiles for the past two decades.

If you need to fold laundry, you have two choices. #1 - drop your dry clothing on the floor and pick up one item at a time, pick off the soggy lint, and then put it back in the dryer to dry again; or, #2 leave your laundry in the dryer and take it out one piece at a time, folding as you go.

The problem with #2 is that you tie up one, or maybe two, dryers while you do this. Approximately 140 people live in this building and 93 of them are trying to do laundry at any one time. Hogging the machines can get you into trouble.

Which brings us to…hogging the machines.

You know what I like? I like those people who toss laundry into the washer, ignore the little timer that tells them their load will be complete in precisely 24 minutes, and take off for a movie, serene in the knowledge that when they return in three hours, their laundry will be right there, waiting for them. Or the people who glance at the timer or the dryer and assume that "45 minutes" means that if it's 10:00 a.m. now, planning to remove their clothes from the machine at 6:02 p.m. will just about do it.

I especially like the people who do this on a Sunday afternoon, when an estimated 138 of our 140 residents are simultaneously fighting for the opportunity to brighten their whites.

I envy the people with the nerve to just scoop the damp and clinging shirts and undies out of the washer and toss the mess on the folding table (I mean, back when we had one) so they can take their turn at the machine. I have a morbid fear that the owner of the dripping socks will walk in the door and catch me touching their stuff and get mad.

When it comes to that, I'm not that keen on touching their stuff anyhow. Ick.

I'm just saying. I'd vote for locking people out of the laundry room for infractions of cleanliness or civility.

What I can't support is the idea of having only one slot of two hours to do my laundry for an entire month. I spend two hours a week doing laundry.

Like Sharon, I don't own a month's supply of underwear. My mother says if your dirty socks have been laying around for a month before you wash them, you're never going to get them clean.

My mother won't let me wait a month before washing my dirty socks and if you think I have nothing better to do with my evenings than to be perpetually doing hand laundry in the bathroom sink you haven't been paying enough attention to the sheer quantity of posts on this blog.*

And what about sheets and towels? If I can only do laundry once a month, two hours is not enough time to do everything.

Nor, if it comes to that, do I own enough shirts and pants to go a month without re-wearing something. Closets in Sweden must be huge.

I'd like a Swedish closet but I can't accept the Swedish laundry system. I have no earthly idea what I'm going to feel like doing three weeks from now at 7:00 in the evening. I may not be in the mood to do laundry. I can't possible commit to cleaning the kitchen towels on an evening when the opportunity to have a picnic in the park might be on offer.

Nope, it's not on. Send the closet, by all means, but keep the laundry room keys. I refuse to plan the next four weeks of my life around the spaghetti stain on the leg of a pair of blue jeans.

I have commitment issues, okay?




( * Seriously. You don't think I really write all of this on company time, do you? Because I was only joking when I said I did. At the moment, for instance, it's 8:52 p.m. but I don't plan to post this until tomorrow afternoon.)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:23 PM


Comments

Ha! It makes me glad we rent a duplex and we have a laundry room all our own downstairs. Getting laundry room etiquette from my kids, though, is just about as frustrating...

Posted by: MJ Norton at May 21, 2004 09:12 PM

I am way off of task this morning because of a show I saw this morning about Sweden - I posted this at one of the sites your blog is linked to:

I was working at my computer this morning, here in Maryland in the U.S.A. - as I checked my email caught an educational show about Sweden on "Cable in the Classroom" - our Yank effort at educating our children about things via television.

I became intrigued by Sweden during this show, out of the corner of my eye the tiny screen in my monitor showed happy Swedes boating and riding very nice bikes. The camera panned beautiful mountains and forests and went on about how Sweden, since they have not been involved in any wars for so long, could devote that money to technology and development. The way this show went on made Sweden look like a Utopia - with promises of a practically perfect welfare system as well, which is part of the reason that Sweden has one of the "highest standards of living in the world." I got all worked up and was thinking WOW, Sweden looks COOL! So I was Instant Messaging with my husband about it and he said, "It'd be like living in Ikea." I said, "HEY!!! YEAH!!!" Because I LOVE Ikea - I even have an "Ikea" photo series I am working on (some of them are posted at http://photos.allzah.com) because I LOVE IKEA! Whenever I notice things like the string they have for you to tie things to your car and the place you can dump your batteries for recycling, I think, "Boy, those Swedes are smart!" Not that American companies don't know that they could do such things, they just don't take the trouble - but it's part of the reason I will drive 45 minutes to Ikea when I have a dozen stores I could buy furniture and accessories at three minutes from my house.

So, out of my excitement for Sweden I start poking around on the Internet and have found these postings about Laundry Room stuff. It was SO FUNNY to me how bent people could get over this! Also, what an epidemic it seems to be! Don't Swedes have room for compact stacked machines in their apartments? Don't any Swedes live in houses with a laundry room? I can do laundry any time I want (and I never want to) and it's funny to think of what a great joy it is to have access to clean underwear! :)

---When I woke up this morning who knew I would have such and educational day!

My boyfriend lives in a 1930's era apartment building in Greenbelt Maryland, with ONE washer and ONE dryer in the basement. I have been in there ONCE, then I started insisting he bring his laundry to my house, where I have my own washer and dryer in its own little closet here in suburbia.

I was about 20 years old the last time I lived in an apartment where I had to share laundry facilities. It's nostalgic for me to read your blog - I could just picture myself running for the basket after that 15 second delay - the moist lint on the floor, poor ventilation of moist hot air - AH smells like my early-20's! Heh.

Posted by: Heather Bartlett at May 26, 2004 10:12 AM