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Petite Bourgeois

Yesterday afternoon I was standing in my bathroom doing laundry. Unlike many European apartments, mine has a true "bath"room. Usually you find the toilet in a room of its own and the sink and bath in a room of their own. I have one room for everything (including the hot water heater), except a washing machine. So there I was washing a few things in the sink.

There has been mention of laundry on this blog before: some Americans seem to have issues with the size of European washers. Well, I didn't have a washing machine in my old apartment, either. This would not be such an issue if there were pay laundromats around, but they only exist in Prague. I've survived. It's now obvious that one can exist without washing machines entirely, whether free or pay, small or large. (Who says size doesn't matter?) You can be your own washing machine!

Here's the proof:

That's what I was doing until I realized that hand washing is hard work. (What a lazy bum!) I could afford to use a laundry service, and I had an old advertisement from "AGIplus" washers and cleaners. Simple, I thought, I can just take this shirt, this pair of pants, and these sheets, and then I won't have to worry about it anymore. The advertisement gave the address Botanická 61. According to my map, the bus that goes by my apartment also stops at that street. Simple.

Or so it seemed. The bus was not too crowded. A good sign. I easily found Botanická street. Then go to number 61, I thought, and I'm set.

Problem 1: The bus only stops next to number 26.

Not to worry, I thought, just keep walking in the direction of increasing numbers.

Problem 2: That's not really how street numbers work here.

Sometimes they run in seuence, sometimes they kind of sort of do. The latter type are often deceivingly similar to the sequential ones, but there will suddenly be a chunk missing ("Wow, how did they ever fit 25-63 1/2 in that tiny alleyway!") or they will start from both ends of the street ("Hey, why are the numbers on that side going up while the ones on this side are going down?"). This is further complicated by the "house numbers." Apparently since the Austro-Hungarian times, every house was numbered for the convenience of the landowners--it was a way for rulers to limit the movement of people (you had to have permission to move) and allowed the landowners to ensure that everyone was paying their rent and doing their work. At some other time, I presume, "street numbers" were added. Ostensibly for the convenience of locating a place. Now the systems coexist and, in certain cases, this is confusing since many houses have signs for both numbers. To Czechs used to carrying around this useless bureaucratic information with them at all times - as everyone does, but of different sorts - it is not confusing at all. Back on Botanická street, I was feeling lost.

Problem 3: No number 61 in sight.

There was number 56, then a street, an empty lot, and number 66. The empty lot appeared to be a corner park. There was no evidence that a laundry had recently burned down or removed by alien spacecraft. I scoured the alleyways and courtyards behind these houses. Best to make sure. Still no sign. The advertisement was just a photocopy, so perhaps this was just some elaborate hoax.

I kept walking. And walking. Just A few blocks farther. Finally, there it was--number 61, nestled on the last block of the street, completely out of sequence. (The street actually continued under another name, but that would only cause more confusion. I suppose the numbers on Botanická had become so confused they finally just gave up and renamed the rest of the street.)

Problem 4: No "AGIplus" cleaners.

But, adding to my surprise at actually finding number 61, there was another laundry service, which gave no indication of being "AGI." Since I had come all this way, I didn't really care what the name was and went in anyhow.

Sometimes you have to take what you can get. (I'll see if I feel that way when the laundry comes back, assuming the place hasn't closed down by then.)

Tagged: , , Czech


Blogger Karla said . . .

Sounds like a standard bizarre experience to me (why do some of us have so many of them and others so few?). And... what, you don't want to wash your jeans in the sink? They're so small and lightweight when wet, aren't they, sort of like a silk handkerchief... so easy to wash and dry, not like those bulky undershirts or something. And sheets, an even more enjoyable washday experience and such a pleasure to hang out the window or over the neighbor's fence.    

6:41 PM, March 19, 2006

Blogger morskyjezek said . . .

Well, I certainly washed all my silk hankies. What was I thinking? :)    

12:36 PM, March 21, 2006

Blogger Karla said . . .

And how large is your silk hankie collection these days? (oops, got to go unload my WASHING MACHINE! which shrinks my machine-washable-wool socks)    

10:10 PM, March 23, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said . . .

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11:53 AM, August 09, 2008

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