Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Weekend Update: No Speak Laundry

Last week, our coop decided to replace the four washers and two dryers in the laundry room. According to the notice posted in the hall, this would take approximately three days to complete. If you needed to do your laundry during that time, you had better find a river and a rock.

When our cleaning lady Sandra came on Monday, we told her not to worry about the laundry. I promised myself I would do a load on Wednesday night.

I never did laundry on Wednesday night. Or Thursday. Or Friday for that matter. By Sunday night, the massive, teetering laundry pile threatened to fall over and kill us both. I cringed every time Shadow went near it.

As we watched TV, I opened my big, fat, Greek mouth and sealed my fate.

"Jesus, how is she going to manage all that frickin' laundry tomorrow?"

Note to self: shut the hell up. "Hey, you have tomorrow off. Why don't you stay and help her?" replied Larry.

I visualized how awkward it would be to do laundry alongside Sandra, as she barely speaks a word of English.

"The new machines are nice."


"The new...machines...are nice." (assorted hand gestures thrown in for good measure)

"Buenos dias."

And besides, this was "my" day off. I had planned to go down to Dick Blick art supplies and then head off to Astoria to cut glass. I really wanted this day all to myself.

"But...I was gonna go...downtown...to buy grout. Remember? I have that coupon for 40% off...?" I said, my voice trailing off.

Guilt had kicked in, obliterating my defense. I visualized Sandra dying of exhaustion while doing the laundry, or maybe leaving a crude note on the refrigerator for us to find.

"I quits. Pigs. - Sandra"

Larry accused me of being lazy and complaining a lot. I don't know where he gets this from.

Determined to both eliminate my guilt and get supplies, I set the alarm for 8:30. I would do a load of laundry before she got there and then bolt out the door. Problem solved.

The next morning, with Larry still asleep, I sorted through the laundry, picking out bulkier items that I could air dry in the downstairs bathroom.

Since I hadn't done laundry in about a year, it took a while to remember how. "I need soap, quarters, and the elevator key..." I mumbled to myself, checking and double checking for my keys, lest I be locked out and incur the wrath of He Who Never Makes Mistakes.

Down in the laundry room I was annoyed surprised to find someone already there. This was an older man, one I'd never seen before.

We now have two different kinds of washers: top load and front load. Front loaders work best, but the dinosaur mummy old man was blocking one of them so I ended up with one front loader (Load #1) and one top loader (Load #2)(why am I going into such detail here?).

The good news is that the new machines appear to hold a lot more clothes. The bad news is a price increase. Hot water now seems to be extra. Hmm, never was before. I guess we're gonna have to deal with this because there will be no way to explain this to Sandra in broken Spanglish:

Sandra, when doing el laundry, please selectamos frio agua. Unless you are doing el blancos, in which case you can use caliente agua. There is un nuevo charge para caliente agua because of el recession

Aqui esta extra quarters para el stupido price increase.

I managed to load the top loading machine with no problem, but the front loader caused my brain to misfire. (early morning chores + decaffeinated brain = disaster)

After putting the clothes in, I could not figure out where the soap dispenser was, so I crouched down and awkwardly poured the soap into the opening in the front of the machine along with the clothes. This can't be right, I thought.

It was only after I started it that I realized the dispenser was hidden behind a metal panel on the front of the machine. The panel had bolts going into it, so I did not think there might be a drawer behind it.

With loads 1 & 2 started up, I went back to the apartment and brought down yet a third. Back upstairs, I bumped into Sandra, who had just arrived.

Larry came down and offered her some coffee. I was surprised to find that she takes it black. She's tougher than you are, Larry, I wanted to say.

As I begun hanging the wet clothes in the bathroom, Sandra came over and sort of motioned to the laundry basket and said something. I figured that she needed it so that she could bring the rest of the laundry down. I didn't know what else to do, so I just dumped the clothes on the rug - and saw that she had already found a large bag to put the rest of the laundry in. Her motioning to it was just her saying, "Oh, there it is" and not "dump that shit out and give it to me."

By now it was getting awkward, and I was kicking myself for not doing laundry the night before. Larry sat on the couch and smoked a cigarette.

With the wet clothes hanging, I went down to the laundry room to put load #3 in the dryer.

I loaded one of the new dryers, plopped in the quarters and pressed "High." I noticed that the laundry bag reeked of cigarettes. This was because Shadow had knocked over an ashtray last week and one of the cigarette butts had found its way into the laundry pile where it had been sitting the whole time.

I rinsed off the mesh nylon bag in the slop sink and rung it out. I opened the door to the dryer, chucked it in, and slammed closed the door.

I pressed "High."

And nothing happened.

"Great. I broke the fucking thing," I fumed to myself. I looked up at the digital display and saw a scrolling message. "Restart...in...process..."

"Oh, what in the hell is this shit?" I asked to an empty room.

After about 30 seconds, it beeped - and some useless error message came up.

This might look like a new clothes dryer, but it's been re-engineered to be a fragile and whiny piece of heated crap.

Sandra came down to the laundry room and saw me standing there. I awkwardly transferred the clothes from the "broken" dryer into the other one. I inserted $1.25 and pressed "high." I saw that the error message on the first one had cleared, so I pressed "high" on that one. It turned on.

"Oh, for fuck's sake!"

I now had spent $2.50 to dry a load of underwear, socks and t-shirts.

I turned around and saw Sandra standing there. I walked out while doing the universal hand signal for crazy: twirling my index finger around my ear while saying "loco."

In my mind, my work was done. She could manage the laundry from here.

I pressed the elevator button to make my escape. The door slid open and I saw Larry there. I hid my panic behind a fake smile. He had come down to see the new machines and I prayed that he would not notice the two dryers running with barely anything in them. Luckily, he just glanced in and made awkward small talk with Sandra while I held the elevator door.

All of this drama and it wasn't even 10:30 yet. Larry went to work and I headed back up to the apartment for round 2: shopping for mosaic supplies.

(To be continued)

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