September 2006

Laundry rooms: the bane of the Swedish existance.

There is a piece of… I supposed common knowledge, collective consciousness, or whatever, about laundry rooms in Sweden. They cause disagreement and dislike among neighbors. Now, until today, I thought of this as something make up, like people getting lost at IKEA (oh, alright, my mom did that once. Bad example.) However, I have seen the light. Or, rather, I have seen the deep, impenetrable, darkness.

See, all rental-until-collections (whether it is single buildings or complexes) have laundry rooms. There are no laundromats in Sweden, and the laundry rooms are included in the rent, not coin-operated. A key to the laundry room is generally given at the same time as the apartment key, as it’s kept locked. In the laundry room is The Holy List. The List is where you sign up for laundry times, something you can generally do up to two days before. You sign up for a few hours a time (depending on the opening hours of the room, there can be anywhere between two and five shifts in one day) and may use the machines at that time. Kid wet the bed? Tomato soup all over the living room? TV exploded? You ain’t got no laundry time, you ain’t doing’ no laundry. You also can’t sign up for too many times (usually one a week is alright, more if you can justify it.) Having a laundry time is a valid reason to leave work early or getting there late. Now, during your hours, you need to do all your laundry and dry it, as well (despite the fact that the person after you can’t reasonable do their drying until at least thirty minutes into their time slot.) Normal decency, like emptying the lint filter and taking your stuff with you, always apply. Extra rules are optional for each location.

Why? Because we’re Swedes, we’re masochists, and we love bureaucracy.

Now, at the complex where I work, each time slot is half a day – six hours. It starts at seven a.m. and goes on until 1 p.m or starts at one and go until eight. We start work at eight, so we lose one hour if we have the morning shift. Also, care receiver is severely handicapped. She needs sheets changed at least twice a week, shirts every day, pants very very often, has an extra set of tops worn under the corset she needs to sit straight -tops changed daily, corsets when needed. And unlike the icky old people in the complex, she showers every day. There’s a lot of laundry, and there’s only two machines.

This complex has special rules. Like ‘mop the room when you’re done’. What the hell? I understand ‘clean if it’s dirty’ but if it’s not even dusty, there’s no. reason. to. mop. twice.or. three. times. a. day. Also, I was whined at by person-after-care-receiver’s-slot for picking up my last things five minutes BEFORE the slot was over.( “everything needs to be out and cleaned by one!”) and just generally whined at by a person why just hung around because the OTHER assistants don’t clean up after themselves. PERHAPS it has to do with us having one hour less, twice and much laundry, and more important things to do than time laundry times?

So yes. I am ready to kill now. Interestingly, at PLU there were no time slots and the laundry room was open 24/7. At Byrn Mar there were three machines, no time slots, no schedule, maybe fifty tenants, and everything worked out fine. Imagine that. In the Ballard apartment, we only share machines with one other apartment, so I am sure it will be fine.



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