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April 04, 2005

culture wars in the laundry room

Yesterday, I did our laundry. We like to let it pile up, and there were five loads to be done. I went down to our laundry room, and all four working washers were available. I started 4 loads. I came back down promptly as they finished and transferred the first load to the one dryer (of four) that was available. I started my fifth load -- towels. 10-15 minutes later, I was able to move the other 3 initial loads to the remaining dryers.

On my way back down to remove my first dryer load and start the towels drying, the elevator stopped at the second floor. A scrawny man in his late 40s got on. He was also going to the basement. We walked into the laundry room and surveyed the washers. My towels had been removed and were sitting atop a washer, and it appeared that he had two loads just finishing washing. I picked up my towels and carried them over to my dryer that was about to finish.

Let me pause to explain that this dryer happened to be the only one in our building that has a special "extend time for $0.25" feature. I planned to unload my current load before it was done, pump in 4 quarters and throw the towels in, thereby drying them for $1 instead of $1.50. What can I say, I'm a cheapskate.

At this point, however, my laundry room companion challenged my actions. "You are using zat dryair???" he asked, in a heavy French accent. I said yes. "And zees ozairs, you are using zees as well?" he continued, indicating the three dryers that had 10, 13, and 17 minutes remaining, respectively. "Uh huh" I said.

"But you cannot do zis," he said, rather dramatically.

This is where I made my first mistake. I should have ignored him. Instead, I said, "Um, I was here first?"

"Well, you cannot use all four!" He's really getting upset now. Hands are waving.

I get indignant -- "I don't see any rule anywhere stating that. Show me where it says that and I'll be happy to go along with it."

"But zis is common courtezee! Zere are 170 peepul in zis building, you cannot possibly use all 4 dryers at once!" He went on like this for a little while.

I tried to remain calm as I said, "You can wait 10 minutes, sir, and I'll be happy to let you use THAT dryer, and you can wait 13 minutes, sir, and you are more than welcome to use THAT dryer."

He made a noise that I'm pretty sure only the French are able to make, but it expresses contempt better than any sound I've ever heard. He then stormed out of the laundry room, cursing me in French under his breath as he left.

I was incensed. My anger was like a burning ball of laundry lint. How dare he come to MY country, to MY city, to MY building, to MY FRICKIN' LAUNDRY ROOM and try to impose his bogus pseudo-socialist values on me! I'm supposed to inconvenience myself and interrupt my laundry process so that he can get his laundry done faster??? Fat chance, Francois! Early bird gets the frickin' worm here in the US of A!

Allison was very entertained by my wrath (and my impression of the indignant Frenchman). I quickly calmed down, but I had to send her for the load of towels because I feared that if I saw him, I might explode into an incomprehensible tirade on the transparently selfish motivations behind his attempt to impose a ridiculous laundry room standard on me.

From now on, whenever the elevator stops on 2, my blood pressure will rise.


Posted by ljh at April 4, 2005 06:21 PM

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Posted by: Mihai at April 4, 2005 09:10 PM

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