Monday, December 08, 2008

laundry lessons

when i stayed with my younger sister mia in illinois for over a month, i was often left to my own devices. she left the house every day at about 7:45 am, usually in a mad dash to make it to work by 8 am or thereabouts. during the first phase of my vacation, when i was still jetlagged from the trip from manila, i would've been awake by that time of the morning, watching her zoom across her small apartment like an angry zombie on a murderous mission. at about that time, i would've been done with the dishes from the previous night, would've finished answering emails, would've gone through most of the recorded shows (hi dvr of leetol sistah. i mishu.). when i had gotten over the jetlag (which was ummm ... after 2 weeks? haha), the routine didn't really change much: i woke up to an empty apartment, smiled at the thought of having no work deadlines, and picked up the dustbuster. during my stay in arlington heights, i was a semihomemaker filled with disney-cinderella-like joy at doing household chores.

during a day i designated as laundry day, i gathered all our whites and got a few quarters from mia's little pile of coins. i loved doing laundry in the states. it was so easy and so soul-fulfilling (is fabric softener addicting?) that i didn't mind doing it often. i wanted to dive into the pile of clean warm clothes straight from the dryer every time.

that particular morning, i unloaded the clothes basket into the washer, poured a capful of soap over the dirty clothes, and proceeded to place four quarters in the slots. i always imagined i was in front of a slot machine and wished silently that instead of clean clothes, money would spill out of the washer. of course, that dream never came to pass. that morning, however, i faced a different kind of situation altogether. i couldn't push the coins all the way in.

thinking it was just me, i tried to push it about a hundred more times (because, you know, THAT always works). thinking it was the machine, i halfheartedly banged its side (only halfheartedly because i didn't want the american neighbors to think i was a rabid laundrywoman, which i was at some point i'm sure) and tried to push the coins again to no avail. thinking it was fate playing with me, i closed my eyes and threw myself on the machine, praying that it would deem my coins acceptable. of course that really made all the difference and the coins miraculously entered the slots all by themselves.

or not.

i scribbled a quick "machine is not working – our clothes are in here" note and taped it to the front of the machine. i called my sister at work to report the dysfunctional unit and she pestered her landlord about it. allegedly, we were the only ones to complain about the machine. huh.

(i probably should've warned my millions of readers that this was going to be a long-drawn-out story.)

(to my millions of readers: this is a long-drawn-out story.)


after being in denial for a few days (and many days of being bothered that our clothes were outside the apartment), i slowly and solemnly took our clothes out of the machine, dirty piece by dirty piece. when i got all our clothes out, i spotted a lone black sock left in the cylinder. A BLACK SOCK. a stranger's black sock that could have ruined the whole wash if the *!%@ machine worked. a black sock i did not see when i was putting in our WHITE clothes. a black sock that might have inadvertently added an inordinate amount of greyness to our wardrobe. the horror.

lesson number 1: "things happen for a reason" (or "sometimes life events save us from our own stupidity, but don't quote me because most of the time, we deserve to pay for our mistakes")

after many angry phonecalls later, i tried the machine again. in a brilliant flash of genius/desperation, i tried another set of quarters.

lo and behold, they went in. the machine was working after all. apparently, there was a bad quarter in my original set of four, which made the machine reject the whole set. imagine: one bad quarter led to a number of sleepless nights (mine), a very pissed sister (mine), a fed-up landlord's husband (he was involved somehow) and a load of really fragrant clothes (the soap didn't get rinsed off until after a week).

lesson number 2: "one can make a difference" (or "some stories are meant to just stay in one's memory because when you try to put them into words, they just sound preachy and boring and not a single one of your millions of readers really want to hear about household chores so just stick to stories about juancho and martina")

lesson number 2.1: "two readers is not equivalent to 'millions' so get over yourself"


Anonymous said...

Only a talented writer can conjure up an interesting and amusing (and educational?!) story out of not being able to do the laundry!!! :-) (naks)

Anonymous said...

magaling orange,you never have failed to impress me with your intelligence and eloquence in writing..and humor as well..well done