Friday, July 21, 2006

Neighbours

I seem to have made an enemy.

Earlier tonight I carried the laundry out to do a load. As I walked out, a neighbor girl, someone from the building, was arriving home from a jog or a vigorous walk or some such thing.

"Are you starting a wash?" she asked.

"Yeah," I said.

"Just one load?"

"Yup."

She seemed pleased. I don't remember if she said she would go right after me, but she might as well have.

I don't know how long a wash cycle actually takes. There's no visible timer on the machine and it's not like I've ever sat and timed it. I usually set a timer for an hour and then go back and get it.

Sometimes I don't hear the timer, or forget to set it. Tonight I was on the ball. I rushed out right on the hour and--

My laundry had already been transferred to the dryer, and her load was chugging along in the washer.

Prompt. She was clearly eager to do laundry.

But as I started the dryer running, I realized that I'd forgotten to mention something important: You see, when I do a load of laundry, it tends to be a massive load of laundry. The machine is filled to capacity. Some might accuse me of "overloading" it. I would disagree. I am merely using it efficiently. Thing is, when you do this, one dryer cycle tends to not be enough.

I set my timer for 45 minutes, knowing I would have to beat her to the machines for the next round, to restart the dryer before she could evacuate the machine for me. I cut off the end of my own dryer cycle, sacrificing ten minutes or so of paid-for drying time in order to start the next cycle early.

As I passed under the girl's apartment window, I thought I heard her complaining about something to do with the wash; probably that I hadn't taken the clothes out of the washer soon enough. I winced. She would not be happy about what was waiting for her.

As I came out to collect my clothes after the second dryer cycle, I found her coming down the stairs to transfer hers.

"Did you do a double dryer?" she said.

"Um, yeah. I have a big load and it tends to need two or it doesn't get dry," I said. "I should have mentioned that. I'm sorry."

A silence passed, during which someone in her position might normally say "That's okay," even if she didn't mean it, unless she were in fact very, very annoyed and unforgiving.

"There you go," I said, cleaning off and replacing the lint trap.

"Thank you," she pointedly did not say.

"Good night," she eventually said, coldly.

"Good night," I replied.

It would seem she is mad about the laundry. I feel bad, but I don't think I did anything wrong, except get to the machine first and follow my usual washing procedure. Besides, it was her apartment that was dumping dirty washing-water off their balcony onto my parking space and car last week.

So screw them, is what I'm trying to say.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Laundry wars are an often left unexplored, but is there anyone over the age of 22 who hasn't had a laundry war? You shouldn't have to apologize, fuck them all.

Kel

lydia said...

Joggers are jerks! I'm sure Cynthia would back me up on that.

Zack said...

him: -5 points for not mentioning a double dryer (had he been conscious of it during their conversation, -20 instead)
her: -5 for moving his laundry (had she done it within five minutes of the cycle's end, -20)
him: -30 for advanced passive asshole laundry tactics, done largely to avoid confrontation
her: -5 for letting it rile her
her: -10 for not accepting the apology

He and she are both in the red, ethically, and home life is not a zero sum game. Ethics be damned, the most beneficial thing you could do is knock on her door and apologize. I know it seems trivial, and it is, but let's review:

(1) She asked about the amount of laundry you wanted to do, and moved your laundry from washer to dryer, probably right away. You are aware of both these things.
(2) Knowing that you are going to have to use the dryer for two cycles, and knowing that she will be down there when the dryer buzzes to use it, you deliberately sacrifice ten minutes of drying time to avoid confrontation.
(3) Your apology, therefore, is not out of remorse but of sheepishness, as you had earlier gone out of your way to avoid a chance to apologize.
(4) Your apology is interpreted as insincere, which it at least halfway was.

The best thing you can do here is to "man up" and apologize of your own free will, rather than as a conversational tic. The consequences of having an enemy in your midst are unforseeable and possibly disastrous (her calling the cops if you're loud, her not telling you if she saw who dented your car, etc.) and the remedy is cheap and easy: go a few feet out of your way and apologize.

And heck, I bet you she can tell you how long the washer runs, to the minute.

I agree with Kel that you owe her nothing. I am coming at this as a strategist, not an ethicist.

Kid Fabulous said...

Jeezus bejeezus - this sounds like a Seinfeld episode!

As a runner, I must say that we all aren't like this, jogging along piping "ME! ME! ME!" in our heads all the goddamn day - just some of us.

That said, I wouldn't worry about it: it's just part of the fabulous world of public laundrying. You didn't do anything wrong. If anything, she kind of invaded your space by touching your laundry - I HATE it when people do that.

However, to avoid further conflict, if you ever run into her regarding laundry again, why don't you strike up a conversation and introduce yourself? You know, "Hi, I'm Kenny, life w/my gf in apt #__, and doesn't it suck that there's only one machine for this many apartments?..." Yadda yadda yadda. Deflate the animosity. It's harder to be angry at friendly neighbors than ones you don't know.