When I was a kid, I can remember wringer washers and clothes lines in the backyard from which everything was pinned to flap in the breeze. It must have been an occasion when we first had a dryer and no longer had to “freeze-dry” clothing in the winter since Minnesota and winters were synonymous with cold, ice and blowing winds.
Fast forward to leaving for college and the unpleasant discovery that doing laundry took time, effort and money. Detergent did not magically appear in my room, loads of clothes could not be left unguarded, and the temptation to use the “sniff test” for cleanliness meant perhaps 3 loads in two weeks rather than two loads a week. Clean sheets and towels every week? You have to be kidding …..
Moving to an apartment wasn’t a whole lot better, there was still the issue of having to find a laundromat somewhere. Housesitting was a good deal, real houses had washing machines and dryers. Even at the point where I was finishing my residency, my possessions still fit in a VW Beetle which means that laundry was still an issue.
This evening I was reflecting that part of George’s appeal might have been his house, but it well could have been that he had a washer and dryer.
After that – I pretty much took for granted that I had the ability to do laundry without getting dressed or disturbing the neighbors until Stuttgart where we moved into government stairwell living with all the amenities located in the basement to share between the six families on our side of the building. Trucking up and down the stairs was a pain, but the opportunity to commandeer all six machines at once was fantastic. They required no coins, just load, fill and go followed by dumping everything into the six matching dryers.
Since then, working for the Army, appliances are something that housing overseas has normally furnished. The office in Heidelberg let me keep their washer and dryer during my stint in Kuwait and again when I was posted to the UK. Even when I retired, with the threat of employment, Heidelberg Housing was willing to let me hang on to the washing machine and dryer. In reality, it also might be that they had more than enough stocks on hand with the draw-down that it really wasn’t an issue.
A couple of days ago, the washer started choking and giving me a “defect” error. The dryer has not exactly been running full up for a while, but we have been able to cope because it was summer.
I looked at the floor in the utility room. Frankly, it was disgusting. Clothes, stuff and detritus abounded. The sink had unidentifiable stuff in it. There were things parked on top of the washer, dryer and drainboard which I could only hope were clean. No way was a calling a service guy with this mess. Besides, we had been talking about investing in our own. The last time we had owned either appliance (I am not counting the cheapies that were passed to me in the UK that passed along) was 1997 and they stayed with the house on 28th NW in DC.
We went to MediaMarkt. Armed with what we wanted, it didn’t take all that long, especially since there were few choices in the larger models. Delivery will be Saturday. Between now and then the room has to be cleaned, the downstairs hall freed of anything that will block the workmen from bringing in the new machines, and the old machines need to go to the garage pending pick-up.
Meanwhile, I still had laundry. Calling one of the women in the MTV knitting group I made arrangements to use the washers and dryers in her basement. It is old-style stairwell with shared machines and they just happen to be the only ones left in her building. Three washers and dryers just open and available. Gathering up just about everything – in one evening I managed nine loads of laundry; a feat that would have taken three days with our German machines.
Effectively, I was back to the laundromat sitting with my knitting waiting on the dryers. Only time has passed, iPods exist, and it is more than just my things which needed to be done. As much as I admired the efficiency, I don’t really want to do this again!