Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How to Boil Lingerie

After a week of traveling it was finally time to do some laundry. It's moments like these that you realize even the simplest things can become major undertakings when you're completely illiterate! First problem, the washing machine was made in Germany. I took German for 2 years in high school, and I can sing "Oh Christmas Tree" auf Deutsch, but we never learned the settings on a washing machine. So with the help of, I set about to make sense of this:

Here were some of the results from Google:

Ok, the translation was a little rough, but I was getting the idea. Then I looked up the last setting:

I decided to stay away from that last one and settled instead for the "colorful lingerie" setting. Good. Now for some detergent:

The pictogram in the top left corner seemed to indicate the soap was for use in washing machines that weighed 4-5kg, which this one decidedly was not. The bigger problem was that all the words were in Croatian. After about 15 minutes with Google, I worked out that the left column was for water hardness and the top row was an indication of filth level. Judging by the scale in our coffee pot, I guessed we had very hard water and my clothes were about medium stinky, so I selected 200ml as the correct amount of detergent. At this point I realized I had nothing with which to measure out the detergent and proceeded to dump in what I best estimated was equal to 200ml. Having grown up in a nation that snubs its nose at the metric system my estimate was based on absolutely nothing.

Ok, good. Setting selected, detergent added....and go...and go! It didn't turn on. I pushed the knobs, I pulled the knobs, I pushed and pulled things that slightly resembled knobs. Nothing happened. Then I noticed a little trap door near the bottom of the machine. What was behind that door? I opened it and saw this:

On/Off Switch???
If you're at all familiar with industrial equipment (much like myself), then you know that this kind of looks like a main power switch. Why the Germans would hide the on/off switch behind an unmarked trap door at the bottom of the machine was beyond me, but I was sure I'd found the secret. I turned it about 90 degrees and fowl smelling drain water went all over the floor.

Not the power switch.

Ok, enough. It was time to look up the user manual. After another 15 minutes spent scouring the internet, I came to the distinct conclusion that the manual did not exist. At least not in English. Not very considerate if you ask me.

At this point Natalie noticed the washing machine still wasn't running after I'd been messing with it for about a half hour.
Natalie: What's wrong?
Jim: I can't get the washing machine to run. I pushed the knobs. I pulled the knobs. I drained the stinky water. I put in detergent. The stupid thing won't run! I'm looking up the manual.
Natalie: Is it plugged in?

Jim: Hey, I got it to work!