Monday, November 24, 2008

That's ridiculous...

It's a funny thing. If you contrast our lives in this generation to life even 3 generations ago, you would be forced to admit how luxurious life nowadays is. Only the very poor go without heat, air conditioning, hot water. Foods from around the world are readily available in most supermarkets. Clothing is cheaper to buy in shops than to sew. Many families have multiple cars, computers, cell phones. The list goes on and on.

Contrast that to my youth, when my Aunt did most of her laundry by hand in either her tub or her sink, when we lived without air conditioning (and I'm sorry guys, but it gets very hot and humid in Canada in the summer, all stereotypes to the contrary), when we got a replacement car (every 15 years) only once the thing conked out, when we wore third-generation hand-me-downs, when getting a toaster oven was a **major** event years in the get my point.

In my 20s, I lived overseas in a developing country. There, laundry machines were a luxury most people did without, and even when you located a machine, it was so wonky that it hopped around like a kangaroo and ripped your clothes. I was consequently introduced to doing laundry on a washboard, which was quite the eye-opener. I can honestly say that since then, I learned that undoubtedly the cleanest laundry is the laundry done by hand on a washboard. Is it a pain? Definitely, but believe me, you'll have a new understanding of the term "clean clothes".

What brought these thoughts (and this post) to mind? For the last 6 months I have avoided going to the laundromat down the block by hand-washing everything. And I mean everything, including sheets and towels. My strategy started out innocently enough: it was summer, the laundromat is narrow, crammed, dirty and without air conditioning, the machines do only a fair job on a good day, and I didn't have the patience in such an environment to deal with the jockeying for a machine and/or guarding my clothes from people who seem incapable of waiting for my spin cycle to end before dumping my stuff and starting their load? Why torture myself?, I decided. I'll just hand wash stuff until after the summer. But then I started appreciating the convenience of doing laundry whenever I need, not to mention being able to perceptibly discern the difference between items washed at the laundromat versus by hand- the latter were unquestionably spotless.

Yet whenever I inform anyone of this latest tactic of mine, while they can understand my logic, they undoubtedly utter the same phrase when I mention that I launder my sheets by hand: "That's ridiculous", "That's crazy", etc. etc. But I remember back to my Aunt, to that washboard overseas, and I wonder which is more ridiculous- to deal with sub-par laundering or take matters literally into my own hands and do things the "old-fashioned" way. Regardless, it being winter, even I may draw the line at laundering my mattress cover and blankets by hand. Because while my tolerance for the ways of yesteryear seems much higher than most, sometimes you've just got to give in to a little modern convenience. Besides, when you schlep your laundry to the laundromat in the winter and open those doors after being out in the cold, that blast of heat can be oddly welcoming.

In any event that's the current plan. Whatever works, as they say...

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