Monday, June 18, 2001

Stoopit American

I've gone on and on about how hard it is to get used to so many things in a foreign country. The pedestrians still baffle me, the supermarkets are a laugh, the ervice is embarrassing, and on and on . . .

One of the most frustrating has been the nifty little washer-dryer units that everyone in London has intheir kitchen. It is a single unit that serves both functions. I have referred to the machine as a permanent wrinkler. It has a little drawer on the top with three compartments for soap, bleach, etc., and only holds a small amount of clothes (2kg). We learned quickly to wash a very small number of items and have the washer STOP at the end of the wash cycle, so that the clothes could then be taken out, shaken and placed back in for drying, instead of having one ball of cloth attempt to tumble-dry in 75 minutes.

There are a couple drawbacks to these machines. You can only wash or dry at one time, you cannot wash one load while another is drying; the drum is really teeny; once you have started the unit, it is complicated to stop it; it is easy to set it to wash a second time when you intend to dry; the final rinse cycle seems to leave an inordinate (not a lot) amount of soap suds upon completion; the controls are a series of buttons and switches, most of which are heiroglyphic at best. None of this is insurmoutable, but it is all frustrating.

The worst part has been removing the freshly dried clothes, especially jeans, and seeing just a mass of wrinkles that no amount of ironing seems to remedy. This has gone on for months.

I actually enjoy doing laundry. It's not a problem at all for me. Anne, however, seems to have much more luck with this machine. When she completes a load, the clothes though wrinkl-y are not a solid mass of wrinkles; and it is soft, not crunchy.

The other night, I got home form the office early at 8:00 P.M., and decided to start laundry. I loaded the clothes, opened the drawer and accidently poured more liquid detergent thatn was necessary; about half again as much as usual. I decided that I would rinse a second time, if needed.

I did a pre-wash cycle, in hopes of eliminating some of the soap, and I checked the soap drawer near the end of that cycle. I was rather dismayed to see that very little soap was used in this cycle, and I would probably have to do a second rinse anyhow.

When the wash cycle was through, just prior to the rinse cycle beginning, there was still soap left in the drawer, and I feared that I might have to do an entire wash again, not just a rinse. When the whole thing was finished, and I was taking the clothes out to shake and reload, there was quite a bit of soap suds remaining. I sighed, shook out the clothes, put them back in, set the dials and buttons for a full wash and watched through the glass front as it all got started. Imagine my surprise when the wash was really soapy. At the end of this process, I decided to rinse one more time. Hours have passed at this point! Anne was home and, lovingly, not making fun of my dilemma and frustration.

At last, it was bedtime, the laundry had been folded and put away, and I continued complaining about the machine. Anne was kind. I admitted I had poured too much soap into the middle compartment and it dawned on me: why would the middle (second) compartment be used for soap? I asked which compartment she used: left (first)! For months, I have been putting the detergent into the fabric softener compartment and the clothes were 'rinsing' with a full complement of soap!!!

You try pressing the wrinkles out of jeans that have been rinsed in liquid detergent!

At least it's not raining.