Sunday, October 16, 2005

Adventures in laundry

disclaimer: the following rant applies only to my own laundry facilities and should not be construed as an attack upon Hungarian laundering in general. In fact, most places in Hungary have perfectly normal and functioning facilities.

I have to admit, for most of my life, I’ve taken laundry for granted. I think many people do the same, so let this entry be a warning for you. First off, I should say that I have been doing my own laundry (and, dammit, quite successfully) since I was about 16. It started in high school, when I was at that particular stage in life where the idea of my mother going through my pockets was both dangerous and deplorable. Since then, I’ve been on my own, and have managed to keep both myself and my cloths at a respectable level of cleanliness. Until now.

Let me describe my so-called “washing machine.” Picture a white metal tube. It is about waist-high and 16” in diameter. If you open the top and peer in, the bottom of the inside is at about knee level. It is made up of ridged white plastic, which, when the machine is turned on, will spin and gyrate like drunken teens at a disco. At the bottom, there is also a hole to allow for drainage. Originally, this hole connected to a narrow, flexible tube on the outside of the machine, which allowed the operator to direct this tube toward whatever drain happened to be nearby. However, this tube snapped off soon after my first use of it. So, I am left with a hole in the inside of the machine which leads directly to a hole on the outside, and no way to stop the water from pouring out. Okay.

So today, being left with two pairs of underwear and one of pants, laundry became a necessity. Steeling myself for a battle, I gathered my darks and marched into the bathroom. First problem: the drainage hole. Solution: I have an unconscionable number of wine bottle lying around; I grabbed the cork from one of them and shoved it in there. Hooray for creative problem solving (especially when booze is involved. After all, I couldn’t just let the wine sit out uncorked). Darks go in the tube. Soap goes in the tube. Hot water, provided by the shower attachment of my bathtub, goes in the tube. Plug in, turn on. Wait. Then it gets messy. Drainage is required. I remove the cork and let the hot, soapy, dirty, disgusting water drain into a bucket. Yes, doing laundry actually involves buckets. What century am I in again?

I repeat the entire above process twice more with cold water, minus the soap. This is my “rinse cycle.” At this point, watching the cold, still soapy, still dirty, and still disgusting water drain into my bucket, I decide that my clothes will never be any cleaner, and to move on to the next step: drying.

But to dry cloths here is a whole ’nother adventure, which I will have to sum up as briefly as possible. Clothes go in the dryer, one item at a time (the interior is approximately the size of a gallon jug). The so-called “dryer” is actually more like a wringer. Basically a tube that spins really, really fast, and shoots the excess water out a hole in its side. Again, a bucket is needed to catch the water. Not that it matters, because this glorious machine has a tendency to leak water all over my already filthy floor. After struggling with the wringer, the final stage of laundry is to lay cloths out on the drying rack and wait two days.

No, I take it back. The last step is to clean up the wet, linty, dirty bathroom floor. But that will have to wait.

So once more, readers, let me implore you: don’t take your washing machine for granted. Be nice to it! Love it, care for it! It is your best friend. Oh, the glories of a machine that drains itself, refills itself, dispenses soap and bleach at the correct times. Oh, for a dryer which would spin my cloths fluffy soft and sweet-smelling!

postscript, added 2006 January 12 - since I've started reading various Iraqi blogs, I've discovered that I have almost the same model washing machine which has become the preferred type in the nearly-waterless, nearly-electricity-less city of Baghdad. Fantastic.


Gaines said...
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Gaines said...

Aww, poor Emily! If it's really that terrible, feel free to bring laundry to Mezobereny this weekend. You'd be more than welcome to use my suprisingly modern washing machine.