Doing the laundry in my apartment building is a workout. It’s a (relatively) long way away, it involves numerous staircases, a trip outside over ice and snow, and, worst of all, braving the scary 19th century basement. Laundry is not a very “sexy” topic but it’s a slice of Swedish life as I know it.
I live on the 4th floor (technically the 5th floor if you ask me but Swedes don’t call the ground floor the first floor so I am splitting hairs here…)
Assemble all my dirty clothes. I often use the embarassing (if out in public) zebra-striped food cart someone gave me to save my back. Gather the washing powder for colors, washing powder for whites, and liquid softener (necessary evil with the hard water and air drying). Grab the dog. Make sure I have the keys. Make sure I have bags in case the dog does her thing when we pass through the courtyard. Put on boots and jacket….Okay, ready!
Squeeze onto the elevator. There’s hardly room for the laundry bag, me and the dog but you will see why the dog is incredibly important…
Exit into the courtyard and carefully make my way over ice and snow and some dodgy shovelling to the basement door. It’s not far from the back door but it’s kitty corner to the back door in the courtyard. I use my key to open the basement door.
I snap on the timed lightswitch and offer a prayer that it doesn’t shut off while I am still down there. Down the basement stairs I go. This is where the dog is vitally important. The basement is scary. It’s got old stonewalls, it’s dark and fairly dirty, it feels like maybe a soul or two might have been tortured down there. (OK, I’m a writer, my imagination can get away from me…) So if the dog doesn’t sense anything, I know the things waiting down there to get me are all on lunchbreak or something and it’s safe.
I turn a couple of corners and pass the signup list where I earlier signed up for a time slot. Most people must have machines in their apartments because it’s not hard to sign up. I turn right into the washroom.
There is only one washing machine in the washroom. Even though it’s not hard to get a time, I wish there were more machines because then I could do simultaneous loads and save on trips up and down the stairs. Oh well, saves on gym memberships.
Rinse and repeat. I repeat the process at least times four times. In addition to the washing machine there is one dryer, a drying closet, a standing clothes rack, a sink, and a mangle. These are all pretty standard in communal washing rooms in Swedish housing. I usually use just the washing machine.
Keeping an eye on the ghostbuster, er, dog, I carefully make my way back through the scary basement, up the stairs, cross the courtyard and back up the elevator with my wet clothes in tow. I air dry the clothes on hangers and a drying rack in my room to cut down on trips up and down and also to control the amount of ironing needed.
It’s all repeated the following week after signing up for a new time. Thank goodness for the dog or I wouldn’t dare!