Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Socialized Laundry

The apartment building GF and I live in has some strange idiosyncrasies. The building, built in the late 1960's, has a short box-like exterior frame, orange shag carpet lining the hallways and common areas, and quiet hours enforced every night after 10pm. Most bizarre, however, is the "socialized laundry" procedure.

When we first moved in to the apartment the landlord assigned us a laundry time slot. He told us that it is within our two-hour time slot each week that we can clean all our clothes, towels, and sheets. He also told us if we do not abide by the strict laundry rules and regulations our laundry privileges will be revoked.

I have found that finishing our laundry in this two hour time slot is quite a herculean task because the laundry building's facilities are quite small. I sometimes feel like we are facing a roadblock on the Amazing Race - I can even hear the Amazing Race disembodied voice explaining the challenge, "A roadblock is a choice between two tasks. In the first task the teams must wash one weeks worth of clothing, sheets, and towels in two small capacity washers and dryers. If they do not complete the task in two hours they will smell for the rest of the week. The second task is to carry an entire weeks worth of clothes, sheets, and towels to the laundromat. The task is not difficult because there are many more washers and dryers at the laundromat but if they drop a pair of underwear on the street they will be very embarassed."

However, since I am in charge of the laundry and since I am lazy I always opt to try to beat the clock in the apartment building. I have developed a routine that almost always assures laundry success. One hour prior to our designated laundry timeslot I synchronize all the clocks in the apartment to the official Greenwich Mean Time world clock. I also gather all the clothes into piles of lights and darks before heading to the laundry room. I do this so that I can just drop the clothes into the washing machines without any time lost on thinking about whether the white sock with the three orange stripes counts as light or dark. My laundry preparations are not complete until I finish measuring the precise amount of laundry detergent required for each load. Each of these precise amounts of detergent is then placed in its own tupperware carrying case. I also make sure to mark the carrying case with the requisite corresponding load of laundry so as not to be mixed up when I finally get to the washers. This system has worked like a well oiled machine until last week.

Last week GF did not have to go in to work until later in the day. So since she planned to be home during our allotted laundry timeslot she offered to help out with laundry duty. Before acepting her offer I explained to her the urgency of every single minute of our two hour time slot and demonstrated my well conceived preparation process. She observed me and then asked if I thought it might be time for me to go to the doctor to make sure I did not have obsessive compulsive disorder. I laughed at her because I assumed she was joking, however, upon further reflection she did not laugh which makes me think maybe she was not joking after all.

As the laundry hour approached I scurried about the apartment and helped GF prepare the clothes, the clocks, and the detergent. A few minutes before the top of the hour I sent GF out the door and wished her luck. She returned within five minutes and I asked her how it went. She informed me that when she slid the coin holder into the washing machine the coin holder jammed. She saw the look of panic on my face and then informed me that the machine was washing the clothes even though the coin holder was jammed and that we were still in good shape. I felt slightly relieved but was not feeling 100% positive about my decision to accept laundry help.

When the washing cycle finished GF went downstairs to load another pile of laundry into the washer and put the other clothes in to the dryer. She came up immediately and informed me that we had another problem - this time the coin holder on the dryer jammed. I looked at her expectantly and asked, "Is the jammed dryer still drying the clothes?" She told me, "No". At that moment real panic set in because there was no way we could manage to dry all the clothes in the remaining hour since we had at least two loads of wet clothes.

So in an effort to alleviate the problems I went downstairs to try and fix the jammed machines. First I pulled on the coin holder for the dryer since this was more of an urgent need. I pulled and pulled and pulled but the coin holder did not budge. At one point I almost pulled the dryer away from the wall and onto the floor. It was at that moment that I realized that I needed more leverage. I then pushed my body against the dryer to stabilize it and began pulling again without success. When GF came downstairs to see if I had any luck she found me pulling at the dryer with my feet pressed firmly on the dryer's frame and my butt two feet off the ground. At that moment she offered to help.

I thought the best way for her to help would be to sit on top of the machine so that her body weight would keep the machine steady while I pulled. She declined. Since she would not sit on top of the machine I took matters in to my own hands and climbed on the machine myself. While I sat on the machine GF began to pull and pull and pull still without any luck. We continued in this manner for at least 20 minutes without success.

As we were about to give up the landlord came out of his office down the hall to see about the commotion in the laundry room. He found me on top of the machine and asked what we were doing. We feared losing laundry privileges for life so we very carefully explained the situation. He pulled a key out of his pocket, inserted it into the coin holder, and within seconds the coin holder released. We both looked at him in stunned silence and scampered to get all of our wet clothes into the dryer before time ran out. As he left he said, "Next time just knock on my door". We both thought that seemed like a good idea.


Blogger tracyg said...


What a fabulous story! hehe

12:38 PM  

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