Saturday, July 2, 2011

Laundry Shouldn't Be a Zombie's Problem

One of the worst things about being a zombie is the shockingly shabby wardrobe. Generally you wear the same thing over and over again, which stinks both metaphorically and literally. We've been experiencing this for the past week or so as we have traveled to and started living in England.

We started out with five checked suitcases and four carry-ons. The carry-ons had one or two changes of clothes for everyone, necessitating a lot of wash-as-you-can on our crazy trip here. The hotel at home just before we left had free laundry. The Washington, DC, hotel had laundry but it cost quite a bit. New York's hotel had no laundry on site but did have a nearby laundromat that we used during Saturday's naptime. Once in the UK, we were reunited with the five checked suitcases and plenty more wardrobe.

Washer, Dryer, Soldier, Spy--LeCarre
Getting the clothes washed continues to be a challenge. Our temporary apartment has a combined washer and dryer. This machine is not some "dryer on top, washer on bottom" stacked arrangement, but one machine that does both washing and drying in the same tub, neatly fitted under the kitchen counter. Sounds like a miracle of modern convenience, right? Well, it would be if it worked properly (or we could work it properly). The washer part seems to work just fine. The clothes get clean. The dryer part seems non-functional. I say seems because it definitely makes the laundry hot. But the clothes are still as wet as at the end of the washing cycle. After spending five hours of fruitless drying cycles, we started hanging clothes around the apartment to dry. The other problem was how the compact nature of the machine means its capacity is small. The manual recommends four pounds of laundry per load. Another clothes cleaning solution is required for a family of four.

We looked online for local wash and fold places and found a chain that seemed to have reasonable prices. I drove a big suitcase full of our clothes to one of their stores. I waited in line for my turn. At the desk, I explained our needs. The nice lady explained that for eight pounds they could do up to twelve pounds. At first, I thought this was some sort of special, e.g. "Wash 50% extra for the same price!" Even with a zombie mind, I knew that didn't make any sense. Then I figured it--eight pounds cash to get twelve pounds of laundry done. We sorted the laundry into lights and darks and found it would be two loads, so about sixteen pounds.

Then she asked me for my phone number. Our sponsors loaned us a pay-as-you-go cell phone. I couldn't remember the number off the top of my head. It's written on a piece of paper at the apartment, on top of the washer/dryer. So I tried to navigate the phone's menus to find the number. After about five minutes, I gave up and the nice lady said that was all right. She just took my name. I wish she'd asked my address, because I knew that. Or even my email.

Next we negotiated when we could get the laundry back. She said it could be ready some time next week. I was worried about this because the customer in front of me had put her stuff in and was getting them back a full week later. So I asked how early next week. She said Tuesday at 3 p.m. Being Friday afternoon, it seemed to me like a long time to go without but I did not want to find another laundromat or a self-serve place. I agreed, took my receipt and headed home, feeling successful. I put a note in our Google calendar to remind me to pick up the laundry next Tuesday.

So we are back to a little more than the carry-on clothes and have to do another load of necessities in the apartment washer/dryer. As I write, wet clothes are scattered all over the furniture with hopes of being dry by morning. We still have one dress outfit that's clean and dry, so we won't be too shabby for church tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. When I was in Chile, I finally gave up and hired a cleaning lady just to have someone to wash my clothes, as I was tired of spending my Saturday scrubbing blue jeans in the bathtub. No laundromats and the drop-off service was far out of a Peace Corps volunteer's budget. I will be writing about my laundry/cleaning lady adventures very soon here: