Why do I have such bad laundry karma? Is there a God I can pray to that will take away my washing problems? Is it symbolic of my life? Is the world trying to tell me something?
If you have followed my laverie automatique stories from the past (aka: As The World Spins) you will remember that my experiences are often plagued with kids who smear dog doo around the floors, coin machines that eat twenty euro bills, French housewives who snap up all the dryers with their wet house-washed laundry, and random drunk cooks who hang out on their midday breaks.
But I moved from the bourgeois 17th arrondissement to the boisterous 5th arrondissement and I thought things would be different.
Things were different the first couple of times.
Okay, so I have to walk five blocks to my laundromat because the two in my hood are closed (Why? Wouldn't you think an area filled with tourists and Sorbonne students would warrant an array of places to wash clothes?) But still, my new laverie automatique is clean, has a plethora of dryers, and never eats my change.
Today the bubble burst. I took my laundry over to my sparkling clean laundromat, popped my clothes in, and left to do some shopping. When I came back one machine had finished and the other was overflowing with suds everywhere. My machine had turned into Mount Everest with a large white snow peak that bubbled up from the soap dispenser on the top.
Both my machines were the same type and on the same cycle and they were started within seconds of each other. I asked a nice man (and the only other person in the place) what I could do, because the doors of the machines lock and you can't get your stuff out unless the caretaker comes to physically unlock them with a key. Furthermore you can't even stop the cycle. There's no emergency breaks.
He told me to switch the cycle button, which I did. Immediately all the suds and Mount Everst evacuated.
As my other load of laundry was drying I noticed that my wash machine was still stuck on one cycle. It was supposed to be a rinse cycle, but there was no water. So my chef's jackets were just flopping around endlessly from top to bottom, white arms waving around for rescue.
I asked the man again what I could do and if he could call the help number for me. But then he told me, the problem is that the water had been cut.
Why had I not noticed the men right outside working down in the manhole? He then pointed out to a paper on the door that said the water would be off until 6PM at night.
"But how long has your machine been running?"
"Une heure. Mais je pense que elle travaille bien. Elle est presque finie" (One hour, But I think she works well, she's almost finished)
"Normalement le cycle prend 45 minutes." (But normally the cycle is 45 minutes.)
He looked to his watch and then back at his machine.
I asked him when the paper on the door had gone up and he replied that they had posted it twenty minutes ago. Great, so while I was out enjoying my ONLY day off this week, the Parisian water department snuck in and posted their little incognito sign and dropped into the bowels of France to check out the drainage problems.
I only hoped that l'eau de toliette had not been washing my clothes all day.
We called the help number on the wall and they informed us that they had no workers available to help today. So then my new friend came up with an ingenious plan. He told me that maybe if I went outside and smiled and talked with the head water dude, that they might have our water back on.
"Plaisantez-vous?" (you joke?) I asked.
"Non." He replied and gave a helpless shrug.
So I did, I went outside and smiled and apologized for my bad French and asked what the situation was with our water. The head water dude told me that they were working on it. And, indeed they were. I peered down to see three men suspended with ropes and little headlights attached to their hard helmets.
I then lied and told him (in French):
"I have a problem, I'm a cook, and I have all my jackets in the washing machine and it won't stop and I can't unlock the door. I think without the water the cycle won't stop and I cook in two hours and I have nothing to wear."
He came in to the laverie automatique to examine the situation and look at my sad jackets waving endlessly for mercy. My new friend and the water boss had a quiet serious man conversation for five minutes and then the boss left to shout down into the manhole.
Twenty minutes later our water was back on and all the guys in the manhole came up to say "bonjour". We graciously thanked them over and over again. They packed up and moved on to the next water problem.
So all that's wrong is right again. And before you go thinking that I'm terrible for using female persausion in such a contrived way, think about working for 12-14 hours a day, six days a week, and then having to spend six hours at the laundromat on your one day off.
Not only that, but all the bistros and cafe's on the street could re-open with water, so really I was helping out the whole area. (My halo and wings are glowing can you tell?)
In fact, aside from being perturbed about my laundry taking three hours, the chivalry of the French water department truly made my day. They were so sweet and helpful and I will always have a special place in my heart for the water depatment of Paris.
Oh, and just as my second load of laundry was finished drying and my new friend's laundry too, the caretaker called back to say they would send some one over to stop the washing machines.
Too late, but at least they made the effort.