DISCLAIMER: This post is entirely too long. However, the ridiculousness of this morning and the exasperation I felt is an example of one of the “firsts” I don’t want to forget.
I know you’re thinking one of two things right now. Either a) “Really?! You haven’t learned to do your laundry by now?” or b) “Really?! You’re going to tell us about doing your laundry?” Let’s just say that, a) I thought I had, and b) yes, I am.
I received fair warning about what I was up against from expats who experienced the same complexities, but I think in this case, you don’t fully understand what they’re saying until you experience it yourself.
First, you need to understand what I will call “the rules:”
#1 – Every apartment in the building has a set laundry time once per week. It is either 7:00am – 2:00pm or 2:00pm – 10:00pm. You may not change your time, and since no one is allowed to do laundry on Sundays, there isn’t a “make-up day” of any kind.
#2 – You must use a small magnetic key to pay for your laundry. The machines are not coin-operated (and definitely not free…this is Switzerland after all), but rather paid for by the funds you put on the key.
#3 – In order to add more money to said key, you must put both the key and some cash in an envelope and put it in the “caretaker’s” mailbox. Each night, the caretaker adds the money to the keys and puts them back in your mailbox. Oh, and don’t forget to put your name and apartment number on the envelope!
I moved in at approximately 8:15am last week after 12 hours of traveling and very little sleep on the plane. It was at that time that the realtor was explaining how everything worked in the apartment and the building. She also took this time to explain all of “the rules.” I was trying to pay attention as best I could, but clearly the laundry explanation did not stick.
My laundry time is Thursday mornings (7:00am – 2:00pm). I have no idea how this is supposed to work given that I have a job, but the caretaker said it is impossible to change my time. In preparation for my first laundry day, I purchased my detergent and fabric softner. Then, I woke up really early to be ready to start at 7:00 sharp. I had a meeting at the office at 9:30, so the goal was to finish in time. I made the decision that I would only be able to do two loads.
[Ready to go! My co-worker said Ariel is “the same thing as Tide.” I have no idea what the fabric softner bottle says (or even if it is fabric softner), but the baby seems to like the cotton…which makes me think it’s soft…which made me purchase it. Where is Snuggle when you need him?!]
[Apt #15…Thursday mornings! Woot!]
There are two washing machines in the basement. I loaded both of them, put in my detergent, and shut the doors. So far, so good. I have NO idea what any of the buttons, settings, or options say on the washing machine, but I figure, if I choose the lowest temperature, my colored clothes should survive. (I already came to terms with the fact that the gentle cycle may not exist.) I touched the magnetic key to the box to pay. It said 2.00 CHF. Success! I pushed a couple of buttons on the machine, and it started! Success again! I repeated on the second machine with the same results. Feeling REALLY accomplished!!
That is…until I realized that the first machine had stopped and the screen went black after about 30 seconds. Then the second machine did the same. Uh-oh. I touched the magnetic key to the box again, pressed all of the buttons on the washing machine again (including Start), and again it started and stopped.
[This error message appeared on the machine…what in the world could it mean?]
[Thank you Google Translate, but I think I liked the message better in French, and again…what in the world does it mean?!]
Now I start to panic, because I have two loads of clothes that have been soaked in water, no phone numbers for help / service / encouragement, and a really important meeting in two hours. I can call the realtor with any House Maintenance issues, but they don’t open until 8:00. I attempted to read the manual, but it was only in French, German, and Italian. I thought ALL manuals had an English option?!
At 8:00, I was on the phone with the realtor. They called the caretaker, and I met her in the laundry room a few minutes later. She doesn’t speak any English. Apparently, the magic trick associated with laundry in this building is holding the magnetic key on the box for a very extended period of time. Somehow this magically allows for everything to start (and more importantly, continue) the wash cycle. She also changed my settings telling me I chose the wrong ones. So much for thinking I was guessing the buttons correctly…
Now is probably an appropriate time to mention Secret Rule #4…
#4 – You may only use ONE of the washing machines during your laundry time.
Awesome. I fill up both machines with clothes thinking I’m going to be efficient and finish before my 9:30 meeting only to find out that I’m only supposed to have clothes in one of them. She excused it, but only until 9:00am.
Fast forward 38 minutes…
Washing machines stop, and it’s time to dry. But, there are no dryers in this building. Well, no “American” dryers. Instead, there is another room full of clotheslines complete with a huge blower on one end.
[It’s like hanging your laundry outside in the fresh air…only different]
Before leaving the States, my mom told me to buy clothespins in anticipation of a situation like this. I’m a little bit excessive and probably bought 50 clothespins. Problem is that by the time I was hanging these clothes, it was closing in on 9:15. I had to turn on the blower and leave hoping that when I returned several hours later, they wouldn’t be blown all over the floor.
Thankfully, all but four items were still hanging when I returned at 1:50. Victory!
I’d like to believe the next time will be easy, since I know how to start the machine and keep it running. However, I’m not quite so sure. I need a better tutorial on the settings, and I REALLY need to figure out how to do 2-3 loads in one machine every Thursday before 9:00am.
Or…I need to pay someone to do my laundry. Any takers?