(Note: I wrote this last night and fell asleep in the process. I thought I would finish it up and post it anyways, since I have nothing better to do.)
I’ve been a sick little girl. The last meal I ate was yesterday afternoon on my trip to Kutna Hora: a slice of pizza and a crepe. Then I came home and my stomach began its mutiny. I spent my first full day without an itinerary napping my sour stomach away and feasting on the occasional roll. My one excursion, to acquire rolls and multivitamin juice, concluded when I was pounced upon by a Jehovah’s Witness with a briefcase full of Good News who immediately sensed that I was a New Yorker. I need to stop wearing running shoes about town.
Since I am stuck inside, with no wish to be converted and too weak to venture beyond the streets that surround my dorm, I have decided to do laundry. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I got the key from our building’s concierge. She had to help me find the door because our laundry room’s hallway had no lighting. She also needed to unlock the door when I could not feel where to put the key. Inside I was delighted to discover that the buttons were all in Czech and I could not figure out immediately which machines were washers and which ones were dryers.
I flipped helplessly and deliriously through the booklet of directions. All of the English was poor, the symbols were indecipherable. The automatic setting was called Baumwolle, and that was on the machine with the English subtitles.
The concierge came in, sensing my distress. She helped me choose a temperature in Celsius and a type of fabric. She asked what setting I prefered, explaining, “Baumwolle is natural fabric, it is too hot for synthetic fabric.”
“What does baumwolle mean?”
“It is English. It is… baumwoole,” she explained. She pointed to the corresponding word on the machine without Czech subtitles. It was a word that looked like baumwolle, but Czech. I pushed the mysterious button and hoped for the best.
When I opened the detergent compartment, someone had left a speckled pile of detergent behind. The concierge explained that it was called “baumwolle.” Actually, she brought a teaspoon and scooped it into the other side of the compartment for me. After that, the machine worked perfectly for me, but I was still uncertain how to use it without aid. I suppose I’m going to need to fetch the concierge for every load of laundry for the next three months.
I looked up “baumwolle” on Google when I got back to my dorm room. It means cotton, but in German.