Slapstick Laundry Situation

Posted: July 20, 2012 by S. Trevor Swenson in General, Life, Me & Mine
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

What’s a guy gotta do, huh?

I don’t always find slapstick humor to be terribly funny. Some of it is great. the Marx Brothers for example, early Woody Allen and Mel Brooks. Other stuff like shit coms such as Three’s Company have a very short shelf life, and were predictable even when I was 8 or 9 years old. Maybe you have to be Jewish to pull off slapstick properly.

My afternoon was straight out of a Marx Brother’s film. I just went to do a huge load of laundry. Simple, right? Well . . .

I have become a tremendous slob in the past 10-12 years. My old room used to be neat as a pin, and unlike other slobs I am actually quite good at cleaning when I eventually engage in it. My former roommate Brian was a huge slob. He just never learned to clean. He tried a few times, but he was hopeless. He once called me “anal retentive” when I tried to explain to him that after sweeping the floor, usually people pick up the sweepings and deposit them in a trash receptacle, and don’t just leave them in the middle of the floor next to the broom before returning to play Madden 2002.

Having transformed into Slobzilla I now have a tendency to do more laundry than usual. I wash it, I put some of it away, but the rest ends up on my floor. Then when my mess reaches critical mass, I get disgusted and pick up all the clothes strewn on my bed and floor and bop on down to the laundromat. I guess it could be said that I am a “Clean Slob”.

Maybe I should invest in a sleigh.

Today I hauled a laundry bag so full it resembled The Grinch Who Stole Christmas‘ bag after he pulled an en masse B&E of Whoville. I greeted the nice attendant there in Spanish. “Buenas Dias.”, I said, even though it was oppressively hot and humid thus pretty far from a Dia Buena. I shoved the laundry into one of the triple loaders which are big enough for me to crawl inside of and take a ride. I poured in some TIDE with bleach alternative (Consumer Reports detergent of the year for over a decade) pumped in some quarters and back home to bask in the comfort of my AC and watch The Walton’s before work. I have a penchant for maudlin, happy crappy American TV. Little House on the Prairie is my personal favorite with The Walton’s and The Brady Bunch coming up on the outside. After half an hour I bopped back over to the laundromat to toss my clean clothes into the dryer. I grabbed an umbrella in addition to dryer sheets as it had begun to rain calicos and chihuahuas outside with a side of thunder and lightning. It was a serious summer cloudburst. I threw my clothes into two dryers and again pumped quarters into them. I had just enough time to dry my clothes, watch another episode of The Walton’s, grab a shower, shave and head off to work. Hopefully the monsoon would be over by then so I could ride my bike to work. I was about to cross the street and reaching into my pocket I realized I had left my keys upstairs in my apartment. I was locked out. I checked and rechecked my pockets…no dice, and no keys either. Shit…shitshitshitshitshit….

I went back to my building where the buzzers don’t work because my landlord is… well, to put it politely; more useless than tits on a bull. I have asked him at least five times to fix our buzzer/intercom system, and every time he says in his patented and maddening Lenny from Of Mice and Men voice “Duh, what’s wrong with it?” In the 11 years I have lived here, my guess would be he has spent less than 5 hours in repairs and improvements. We have an interesting relationship. I pay my rent late, and he doesn’t raise the rent very often or maintain the building. I report and re-report necessary repairs, he asks me what the problem is (Regardless of how many times I have informed him in the past) he schedules an appointment to fix the issue and then he doesn’t show up. On the rare occasion he does show up, he wont have the right tools. On the even more rare occasion, he shows up with the right tools makes the repairs in a manner that breaks something else, or what he “repaired” falls apart again 2 days later.


He’s useless, but at least he doesn’t make me ballroom dance with him up on the roof.

The ironic thing is, despite his total lack of proficiency as a landlord, the door to my building is quite secure. Someone else must have installed it. Despite having an umbrella I was getting soaked. It was that kind of torrential downpour. I banged on the outer door praying my downstairs neighbors were home and would let me in. No dice. Then I noticed my roommates window was just above a narrow landing over the front door. If I could get a ladder I might be able to break in through her window. I trudged back to the laundromat to see if they had a ladder I could borrow for a moment. It never dawned on me that a one story laundromat wouldn’t really have any need for a ladder, except if they hired a very small attendant who needed a ladder to reach the lint filters, I buenas dias’ed the nice attendant again and asked if she had a ladder I could borrow. She smiled and said “Jes”. Now we’re getting somewhere. She kept smiling but made no “It’s over there.” or “I’ll get it for you.” gesture. I knew that smile. It was the same smile the cook at work uses when he doesn’t understand what I am saying, but doesn’t want to share that information with me. Maybe it’s an Hispanic cultural thing designed to annoy me. Since age 14 I have held a firm belief of a widespread international and cosmic conspiracy to piss me off. I once asked my mother about it and she said “Damn, you’ve caught on to us at last!”
I leaned forward and said “LAAAH-DERRR” because patronizing condescension is an integral part of bilingual communication. Then she tilted her head in a confused gesture (also exactly like the cook at work or a dog after the 10th time you fake him out pretending to throw something,) I searched through the limited Spanish files in my mind and lo and behold I knew the word for ladder. Don’t ask me how. It’s the way my special little snowflake of a brain works. I remember useless, semi-useless and trivial things forever and forget important things regardless of how often I am reminded. “La Scaleta?” I asked sounding like Ricardo Montalban. I pride myself in my accents. “Oh, Sca-LET-ah!” she replied, understanding. “No, no I sorry.” She said. I thanked her and went back out into the monsoon which had redoubled in it’s intensity.

The actual storm. My luck.

This was bad. I was soaked, I was missing The Walton’s, and had no way to get into my apartment. I banged on the outer door again, then I tried to break in using an old credit card that I had in my wallet. All I succeeded in doing was mangling the old credit card. I looked back up at the narrow landing just above the door and below my roommate’s window. There was a metal gate that I might be able to climb up onto and make it to the landing. I carefully climbed the gate and upon reaching the top I realized three things and remembered one more. The realizations were that I lacked the leverage to get onto the narrow landing, that the landing was too narrow to get onto comfortably and that my roommate had installed bars on her window that weren’t visible from below. The memory I had was more disturbing…as I stood shakily on the gate I remembered my friend Armando’s graphic story about a friend who was climbing over a similar gate topped with blunt spikes, slipped and one of the gate’s spikes made a most unfortunate rectal hole in one. The treatment for the injury was long, painful and humiliating. I slowly and carefully climbed down. Given the surreal and slapstick momentum of the day I had no doubt in my mind that if I were to fall and impale my no-no bits or posterior upon the gates that someone would happen along as I was screaming like a banshee with a stubbed toe, whip out their cell phone and record it and I’d be the Youtube sensation of the decade. The gate rocked back and forth as I carefully climbed down. I was totally soaked now.

It was getting late and I needed to get in and ready myself for work. I broke down and walked next door to my neighbor’s building. I’m not crazy about my next door neighbors despite our friendly exchange of greetings when we see each other. They routinely throw loud parties until 4 or 5 am in their backyard which is right below my window. I routinely call the police to complain about the noise, who in turn, respond with the same zeal as my landlord in regards to repairs. They also own a yappy chihuahua and a growly pit bull that menace me every time I walk by their house. My neighbor was in and I asked “Can I get up on your roof and use my fire escape? I’m locked out.” She said she didn’t have roof access but I could go through her back yard, hop the fence into my back yard and climb up my fire escape. I gratefully accepted her offer. My building is enclosed on all sides by fences and other buildings that I do not have access to. I went through my neighbors house dripping all over her floor and went into her backyard. To my surprise there was no sound stage for salsa and meringue bands that perform during their late night parties. There was a short fence that separated our back yards. I climbed over her fence. I haven’t climbed fences since I was a child and I am out of practice. I landed in my backyard and the vegetable garden that my landlords elderly father keeps there. I landed with a splat and sank 8 inches into mud. Luckily my shoes stayed on. As I pulled myself from the muck and mud my neighbor commented “Why dontcha step on the boards between the rows there?” There are few things more irritating than bystanders pointing out painfully obvious mistakes after the fact when you’re stressed out or having difficulties. I turned back to her and said “Ya think?” I was trying to be nice. She was doing me a solid here after all. I trudged through the slop that was my back yard trying to avoid the mud and step on various boards and things between the rows of vegetables. I found my fire escape and jumped up to pull the sliding ladder down and…no dice. It was hooked on the second floor. I could reach it, but only by standing on my tip toes and extending my arms as far as possible. Pulling myself up was not an option as I have never been good at pull ups. I remembered seeing a ladder in my neighbor’s house so I trudged back and asked her if I could use it. She went and got it for me, muttering about how lucky I was that she loved her neighbors True enough. I resisted making a comment about extending that love to not entertaining in the back yard until dawn. Lately unwanted commentary hasn’t been doing me any favors in life. She handed the ladder over and I set it up under my fire escape. I told her I’d return the ladder via her front door once I got in. I climbed up the ladder and onto my fire escape landing. Then I opened my kitchen window and poured myself through. My cats were there looking at me innocently with a “Whatcha doing Scott? Is it raining outside. It’s almost dinner time you know.” look. “Fuck off” I snapped at them and they did indeed fuck off to my bedroom to watch the ending of the Waltons which I was missing.

It is a mad, mad, mad, mad world, indeed.

I was inside, had my keys and now had to get my neighbors ladder back to them. I took my shoes off and threw them away. They were totaled. Mud on the outside and in. I went back onto the fire escape landing and quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to reach the ladder. I went back inside, looked around the kitchen for a moment and found an old metal cane that had belonged to my mother. Then I went back out, climbed down the fire escape, reached down with the cane and hooked the ladder and started to climb back up. It was at this moment that I realized that climbing a metal fire escape with one arm, toting a metal ladder with a metal cane in a violent thunder storm was kind of tempting God to toss a lightning bolt my way. Maybe he’d wait until I slipped and fell off of the fire escape. Then I could lay in the mud of my landlord’s garden with a fried metal cane welded to my hand and a neighbor’s ladder on top of me moaning “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Eventually my neighbor would come asking “Hey, can I get my ladder back?” and I’d ask her to please call an ambulance and my job explaining that I might be running a little late. New Yorkers don’t respond quickly to cries of distress. I’d have to think of something to yell other than “Help”. Maybe if I screamed in a high pitched, woman’s voice “Hey, free sex and money over here!” then someone might respond within 4-6 weeks. Until then I’d have to live on the tomatoes and zucchini in my landlord’s garden. He’d probably bill me for them. Needless to say I scrambled up the fire escape as fast as my one climbing arm would allow. Then I pulled the ladder up, praying it wouldn’t slip from the cane and tried to shove it through the kitchen window. Of course it didn’t go easily and I began to speak in potty mouthed tongues. “Goddamn-cock-smoking-cunt-nugget-shitbag-thing! GET IN THERE.!!!” My cats had come back into the kitchen to ask if I could please keep it down as John Boy was about to buy a Model T and Grandma Walton was passing along her fritter recipe to Mary Ellen on her death bed and by the way…it’s still dinner time. Eventually I got the ladder through the open window and crawled in after it. I carried the ladder downstairs to return it to my neighbor. Before I reached the front door to my apartment I checked my pocket and yes, I had almost forgotten my keys again. If I had managed to lock myself out again, I would have lept in front of a passing UPS truck (after returning the ladder of course) My neighbor didn’t answer the door, because I obviously wasn’t wet and exhausted enough. Finally, her cousin, husband or brother answered, I’m not sure which (she has a rather large and lively household with approximately 30 extended family members staying there at any given time.) and I explained that I was returning the ladder.

I went back to my apartment and called work to tell them that I was running a little late.

  1. Norma Desmond says:

    Hilarious. I´ve added “Slobzilla” to my list of favourite words. And as I´m gifted with a brilliant visual imagination I was laughing my head off as I knew exactly the look your cats were giving you when climbing into the ktichen window. Of course I did not laugh by the imagination of you laying in the mud of your landlord’s garden with a fried metal cane welded to your hand 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    Danke Norma


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