10.18.2005

Bike-tastic

Last night I decided that it would be a good time to start on laundry, so I basically tore apart my bed and such to come up with a good amount (one month's worth) of things to wash. I brought a few loads the six flights downstairs to the basement, loaded up one machine, and then noticed these little box things with coin slots. After a year with Coe's new "pre-paid" laundry service, I was a little reluctant to believe that I needed to pay upfront to wash my laundry. There was also no amount mentioned on the coin boxes, so I had no idea how much this joy would cost me. In the end, I had already shut the door to the machine, and for whatever reason, pressing the button to open the door didn't work. I called my neighbor, Sonia, and asked her if she knew how to use the machines. She told me about some kind of token that I needed to purchase from the Hausmeister (it turns out that she had really guessed at this, and had no real idea of how this laundry room worked, or how to get in to it). I told her what had happened, she said a few swears of sympathy, and I returned to my apartment, saddened, a bit frustrated, and short one load of laundry.

This morning I headed back to the basement to buy these magical tokens that make my clothes clean. The Hausmeister asks me where I'm from, and what room, then asks if everything is working out okay so far. I said things were great, but that I had made a mistake last night with the laundry facilities. He asked if the stuff in the fourth washer was mine. Haha, yeah, it is. Friends, it is EXPENSIVE to wash clothing here. One token costs €1,50. Four tokens, €6. That's almost $10 worth of little arcade-sized coins. The washing machines are single-loaders. Triple-load machines in Three Rivers, Michigan, cost $1.50. It goes without saying that I will be air-drying everything from here on out. Hausmeister said if there were any problems to let him know.

Not five minutes had passed when I went back to the Hausmeister to tell him that I know it hadn't even been five minutes, but I already had problems. The door to the first washing machine wouldn't open, and I had put one token into the wrong token-box. The boxes are placed diagonally from their corresponding machine, something I learned only after the machine didn't begin the cleaning process.

Hausmeister gives me a look. I shrug and laugh, he shrugs and goes to the laundry room, glancing over his shoulder at me, again, with this "Are you f-ing kidding me?" look. Wonderful! My first time meeting the Hausmeister and he already thinks I'm an idiot. Problems were solved as follows: Hausmeister walks right past the first machine, goes to the third one, the one that is now ticking with my token minutes, takes out whatever was in there (since it's already clean), I say "oh" in a small voice, and he shrugs again and leaves. I didn't bother to tell him that I had alreadz put soap in the first machine. 75 minutes later every dry and safe surface is govered in wet bedsheets and pants. Two loads down, too many more to go.

Then I found out my cell phone has stopped working. "Inactive SIM." Man at the O² shop sent me to the Mobilcom shop where I bought my O² card (oookay?), and Mobilcom man (who said, "Hallo" at first, then "Ah, what can I help you with today?" when he recognized me. I did, however, conduct the visit in German from there-on out. I have some pride, too) has NO idea what's wrong, and puts the 'please hold!' music that's coming from the line on speaker phone so I can hear that he can't get through. When I stopped back at the end of the day he still had no idea what was up, and seemed frustrated with the service people he had been trying to call. I have to go back there tomorrow, too, and see if anything new has come up.

Later we rolled my... excuse me, THE pitiful bike down to a nearby shop to have it fixed. I still can't call it "my bike" and feel good about it. At one point I said to Kathy, "Can you hold... that for a bit?" and pointed to the two-wheeled pity-wonder. The man at the bike shop was nice about things; I told him I was an exchange student and that my German was not that good (he said "Ah, the same as me, then!" -- so he's not from around here), and then proceeded to explain what needed to be fixed. He got what I was saying about the brakes, and noticed the upside-down handle bars on his own. Then he asked about the light, and pointed to this weird silver thing hanging off the side of the back tire. I had noticed it myself only this morning, and I said "Licht?" (light), with some surprise. We tried saying that the light was a minor thing, and that I would probably not even use it (mostly because I have no idea HOW to use it), but we were then informed that, if the police were to stop me (for reckless wheeling, who knows...), I could be fined €20 for having a broken light. So I said he could fix it.

He also poked at the tires a bit, inspected the chain and then gave his diagnosis: "Das ist ein schlechtes Rad." (This is a bad bike -- my grammar is probably off, fyi) Tschyah!, I know! Look at it! He then said how the bike was probably worth €10. The repairs will cost apprx. €30-€35, but a 'new' used bike would cost me around €80. So repairs are in order. He said to come back tomorrow morning to pick it up. I found it odd that he didn't ask for my name or a contact number, so I asked him if, when I came back tomorrow morning, I would even have a bike. He laughed and said that he'd have to pay someone else €10 just to take it off his hands. But tomorrow I will have a repaired bike, and would ride off into the sunset, but my apartment is north of the city.

3 Comments:

At 8:28 nachm., Anonymous Kathy said...

Yeah that was definately fun. I need to remember to ask where I could find a used bike....hmmm.

 
At 4:41 vorm., Anonymous Kira said...

I miss you. Things are boring around here. David says 'Hi' and he says he is going to kill me if you don't come back soon...fucking bastard.

 
At 8:00 nachm., Blogger danj. said...

After all the descriptions of the famous bike, how about a picture of it???

 

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