Thursday, November 27, 2008

me vs.the laundry

On nearby Via Della Grotte is the laundry we use. When you enter it’s into a long narrow room. On the right is a waist high service counter that extends a few feet. On the left, three folding chairs followed by five washers. On the back wall are four dryers, two up and two below. A moderate size table for folding clothes is on the back right wall.

I was the first customer of the day and asked the stocky young attendant which is a good washer, She said they were all good. So I asked her again and she said the first one.

I put my load of clothes in. Then dropped in the three and a half euro in coins. The glowing letters on the washer read sixteen minutes to go so I left everything and went down the street to see friends who are wood workers with a shop on the corner.

When I came back fifteen minutes later I checked the washer and it read fourteen minutes to go. Two minutes had elapsed on the timer, so I sat down on a chair along the left wall. Near the door is the counter for the attendant to sit behind. There is a metal folding chair for her. She was reading a magazine.

There is a common metal ironing board set between the end of the counter and the back wall. This ironing board is used by the attendant as an improvised gate. When she takes her place she first opens the gate, sits on her chair, then closes the gate. Not so much a security gate, more of an obstacle against any intruder seeking to get at that plump young attendant. Tripping on the ironing board could cause aggravation.

From where I sat I could see her head over the counter, and although it just read fourteen minutes to go, one minute after I sat down the load finished. I began to take the clothes out and load them in a large plastic bucket to carry them to the dryer. I was dripping water all over. Everything was soaking wet. The attendant saw what was going on, came over and, sure enough, the machine said “Done” in glowing letters.

She helped me put it all back in the washer, then opened the top of the machine with a key and ran he spin cycle by holding a switch open for about three minutes. She informed me that the owner is in the business for the money, not for repairing the machines.

With the clothes wrung out well I carried all to the dryer that the attendant said was the best. The dryer worked well for another three and a half euro. Thirty minutes of tumbling and heat. I pulled my dried things out when it was two minutes from completion, folded the clothes, and put them in the cart I brought, said goodbye and wheeled my cart for the three or four blocks to home.

I had to carry the cart and load of clothes up three flights of stairs as there is no elevator in our apartment building. The first floor is called the ground floor. The second is called the first. We live on the third story, which the Italians call the second, but this is Roma and that’s another story.

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