Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Swedish Laundry Room and Further Proof that I am an Idiot

Keep in mind that you should never listen to me and that I am, in fact, an idiot. Some days are worse than others. It’s kind of like one of those recurring conditions that you can live with but they flare up every now and again making life tough. Like asthma, but idiocy.

The laundry room in Sweden can lead people to prove they are idiots. You’ll find everything from fights to small talk in the laundry room. Or you may find me locked outside of one in -13 degrees Celsius weather. That’s a fun little game that I like to play in the Swedish winter.

But it was the fights that I was worried about tonight. So far I have avoided any sort of conflict in the laundry room. There was the one girl who accused me of stopping her laundry halfway through the spin cycle and dumping them wet and cold next to the laundry machine, but it wasn’t me and she got over it. There was also the girl who refused to let me use the dryer even though she wasn’t using it but had booked the time. But I got over it.

The problem is that the laundry room can bring out the worst in people. Especially when they are creating gloriously passive aggressive (and aggressive) reminders to their fellow laundry doers. There’s even a book about it: Den som inte tar bort luddet ska dö! by David Batra

That’s why when I realized that I had left my clothes in the washing machine ten minutes past my time I was nervous. Ready for a fight in my bright orange sweat pants. I sprinted down to the laundry machine to see a girl leaving the laundry room with a guilty look on her face. Clearly she was up to no good. Luckily, she was about half my size and didn’t look like she would put up much of a fight. But my Swedish side came out and I apologized. Profusely. And was surprised to hear her apologize also. Profusely. I was the asshole that took her time. She shouldn’t apologize. Apparently she felt it bad form to move my clothes. Or maybe she was embarrassed by my unmentionables. Few things are as sexy as boxers with holes everywhere that I’ve been wearing for at least the last six years. She slinked out of the laundry room and I slinked in, moving my clothes to the dryer feeling strangely ok with being the bad guy.

I headed back to my apartment to make a phone call to my American credit card to make sure that it would be ok with me traveling a bit. No need to have them shut it down while out of the country. So a quick phone call and everything was as it should be. I had managed to stumble my way through without making an ass out of myself. Or so I thought.

Turns out that when the guy sitting in the US working tells you to have a nice trip, the appropriate response is not, you too. Because he is not taking a trip. At least not that you know of. Laughing your way through an embarrassing explanation after you realize what you’ve said does not help the situation. Nor do awkward good byes. But as I said, I am an idiot.

Welcome to Sweden. And my daily struggles with idiocy.

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  1. haha cute story.


    i read you like sports,
    what do you think about the Sm finals in hockey if you have watched it on kanal5 ?

    keep up

  2. At least you didn't tell the credit card guy you love him. That's worse. Not that I would know...just saying... it would (hypothetically) be worse. they ever act like you shouldn't call about traveling? Because my credit card company always gives me this "of course you don't need to call" thing...even though they've turned off my card twice when I've been abroad...and on those occasions they told me I should call prior to travel and let them know.

  3. Laundry experiences are always fun to hear about. Hopefully you had no missing socks (or boxers!) :)


  4. LOL!

    That was enjoyable, because we've all been there.

    I can write a book about how many times I've had to take someones stuff out of the dryer because THEY took my stuff out while they were running, and I had booked it.. bastards!!! ><

    and Hairy, you're not an idiot.. just.. a case of "the clumsy-es." :P

  5. haha

    yeah~~ you portray the exactly thing that in happening in laundry rooms again and again everyday

    well actually I have thrown away other's stuff for several time too, but only under the condition that they didn't book the machine but occupied mine~~guess that's the only way to teach them a lesson ;)

  6. So when one of my very first uppgifts in my SFI class was to explain what you would do if someone kept taking your laundry time. At the time I thought it was a random question, but now I know how sacred laundry problems are. The room got really quiet when we read ours--take the damn clothes hostage in your apt and leave a ransom note so they are forced to come explain themselves if they want their unmentionables back. It was a little harsh, yes, but it seemed like a functional idea at the time.

  7. ps - at least your freinds don't say "I pulled a "hairy swede" today and go on to explain what dumbass thing they did. So I'll take your sometimes idiot and raise you a triple idiot sandwich. But I blame it on being left-handed.

  8. I will miss many things when I leave Sweden but I really wont miss the laundry set up when I am in the US!!!

    I will be renting a place with its own washing machine. It used to be the case that super fast broadband and a tv were the first purchases...not after the Swedish experience ;-)

  9. OMG FNISS!! *******************

  10. Well I'm having trouble even understanding this post. I had to read it several times to get it and I'm still not sure I did. So just to be clear ...there's only one washer/dryer and you all have to take turns using it? Wow, that really sucks! also booking time? what's that? that seems strange. Do you get the same time every week?

    In my building we have 9 washers and 6 dryers, no one books time ( that would be impossible, too many people) however we still get people leaving their laundry in all day and still have to take other's laundry out of the dryer sometime to use the dryer. However, it's not that big a deal, although I have to admit I hate having to do it. But 10 min.! That's not very late. I wouldn't have blinked an eye at that.

  11. Juni: So how do you know when to do your laundry, do you have to run down to the laundry room and check if a washer is free? And then wait if all are taken?
    Seems easier to book a washer and know when to be there, but maybe that´s a very swedish "stand in line"-mentality kind of thing. ;) I just run down to see which times are free, check what suits me best and book it (and then try to remember it...).

  12. @Shane: You can do that in Sweden too, you know. Several people living in apartments install their own washing machines... The only difference is that it costs more. ;)

    @Juni: It depends on the house of course. Where I live we have 2 washing machines and 2 driers for our section of the building (which houses about 16 families). You don't book the washing machines - you book the ROOM for a few hours. And you'll have to book at least one day ahead or it will be full. But I see nothing wrong with this system. Not booking the laundry makes no sense to me at all.

  13. The unwritten (yet strictly enforced) rules for Swedish Laundry Room use have provided me with a ton of blogging material over the years. Here's one you might enjoy: You thought I was making it up, didn't you?

  14. @anonymous – I did watch the SM hockey… and it was glorious. Just a great display of hockey. Very glad to see that Djurgården didn’t win.

    @E – Hypothetically of course, that would be much more awkward.

    And no they were really nice about the traveling. No problems at all and they seemed quite pleased that I called to tell them.

    @anonymous – non of the laundry trolls stole any of my clothes so I was pretty excited.

    @Lost – it’s a constant battle in the laundry room I think.

    @Claire – the worst is when it comes down to an interpretation of the laundry rules, how many minutes you are allowed to be late before someone else can sneak in and take your machine. We have only a 15 minute rule so there are quite a few discussions with people reaching for cell phones and watches to figure things out before any clothes are removed from the machines.

    @m8 – seems like an effective way to send a message. Or a really creepy way to make friends. I cant decide which.

    @Shane – its all about priorities. And I think the laundry room has become more and more important.

    @anonymous – agreed.

    @Juni – there are several washers (12) and dryers (6) for a very large complex of people, but you can only use them if you have booked them. You have to sing up for a specific time, if you miss your time by 15 minutes, someone else can come and use the washer. That’s why the amount of time that you have left your laundry over for becomes so important.

    @Maria – Im the asshole that goes down and waits until 15 minutes have gone by and sneaks in and grabs a washing machine, like a scavenger. It probably makes me a bad person, but Im just not capable of remembering my times after I book them.

    @M – good points.

    @Shazzer – just a frightening display of aggression over having clean clothes. And hilarious.

  15. Info. you're giving about your clothing is enough for Sverigedemokraterna to catch you lol

  16. @ Maria Actually it's very rare that there isn't at least 1 washer available but yes, it does happen. I'm not sure either system is best but more whatever a person is used to.

    @ M well, the only thing I don't like about having to book time, is that it's not very spontaneous and I'd rather be able to do my laundry whenever I want. On the other hand I've never tried this booking time system so it's hard for me to know if I would like it. I don't have any trouble now, so I wouldn't be inclined to change things unless what we do now wasn't working.

  17. Im also of the thinking that being able to do launry whenever I want is pretty nice. Which is why I am the vulture of laundry rooms and take the times that others forget.