March 14, 2019

Washing Machines

I’m currently living out of a small duffel bag, and only have so many pairs of clothes, so I need to wash them all about every 4 days.

Today is washing day.

The Constructa Viva 1000

The AirBnB I am staying in has a washing machine in the bathroom. The Constructa Viva 1000 - a front loader. It’s an older machine, the plastic has started to yellow, the window is covered in a brown dust and the soap drawer has something growing inside it. While the labels are all in German, someone had thankfully scrawled on english translations with a marker, though most of these had faded and were unreadable.

The machine door sits ajar, I pile in my laundry and try to shut the door. It doesn’t stay shut so I wiggle it a bit until it finally snaps closed with a sharp click. I press the button marked “Ein Aus” (on/off) and swivel the washing dial but nothing happens. I try pressing more buttons and rotating the other dials, but still the machine just sits there. I begin to wonder if this machine works at all, and decide it’s probably best to wait until the host gets back to ask him how to use it.

That’s when I notice a lone sock still in my laundry bag - I had missed it earlier. I pick it up and go to open the door to add it in. The door is quite stiff, so I pull harder but still it doesn’t open. I try wiggling it, and pressing buttons, but the door remains locked tight. I try everything I can to get the door open, though careful not to pull so hard that I risk damaging the machine, but no luck. My shirts, socks and undies sit trapped inside as prisoners of the machine.

I’m quite concerned at this point, as I start to realise that this machine may be broken and I shouldn’t be using it all. I quickly google for “how to open stuck washing machine door” and find some YouTube videos suggesting I try to disconnect the power and wait 5 minutes. So I disconnect the power and wait 5 minutes. The machine doesn’t seem to notice.

I then google videos of people using the Constructa Viva 1000. Maybe there is some sort of obvious trick to opening the door that I was overlooking. Surprisingly, someone had actually filmed a Constructa Viva 1000 for over 15 minutes while it did a quick wash. I skipped straight to the end and watched as they turned the machine off and then slid out the soap drawer before simply opening the door. I thought aha! I need to slide out the soap drawer. So I rush to the bathroom to try. The door stays locked.

I try again and again, pressing “Ein Aus” for the millionth time, rotating all the doors to all possible positions and yanking on the door. I slid the down in and out, and then suddenly the machine whirs into action, and my clothes start spinning around in circles. This is a great sign, because it means the machine isn’t broken and that I will at least have clean clothes. I configure the machine to do a short wash, and leave it while I make dinner.

After dinner, I return to the machine, confident that now it has finished it’s duty, the door will be unlocked and can I hang out my clothes. I try to the open door again, and nope, still locked tight. I examine the latch closely, but can’t see any way of opening it without potentially damaging the machine. I decide the best thing to do is to wait for the host to return, surely he will know how to open it and we will have a laugh about how silly I’ve been. Surely.

It was 10pm, and my host still hadn’t returned, so I headed to bed. In the morning, I walked into the bathroom and noticed three things.

  1. The Washing Machine door was open
  2. All my clothes had been strung out on the clothes horse
  3. There is a metal knife sitting on the window sill directly to the right of the washing machine. I hadn’t noticed this knife before, but I imagine it’s crucial to getting to the door open.

© 2020 George Czabania