26 May 2011
A few weeks ago my neighbor L’s washing machine broke with my clothes still inside. The guys at the workshop managed to get the machine (which was, at that time, cohabiting with it’s third owner) open, but it was then that I decided best to go ahead and get a new one that will last me many years to come.
When I was in Niamey I shopped around a bit, and had settled on a size, price-range, and few good models. Once my furniture is ready, someone at the office in Niamey would go and haggle down the price and they’d send the washer with my table and chairs and sofa, etc.
Last week, around 7something in the morning I got a call that my washer was here and it would be delivered in the next few minutes to my door. ‘My what?’ I asked, very surprised. Sure enough it was here.
It was finally installed Tuesday afternoon, and since my house help wasn’t coming until today, there was no need to try it out before this morning. Famous last words.
For some reason the instruction manuel didn’t make it’s way from the shop in Niamey to my home in Galmi. But hey, this model was in English, so who really needs a user’s manuel??
I put in the clothes, added some soap, and pushed some buttons. The regular cycle would take 2 hours. R. would be here in half an hour. Hmm. The Quick Cycle was 29 minutes (what on earth could they be doing for the other 91 minutes, I wondered). Perfect. I pushed start. It started. I went to brush my teeth before running out the door.
Around 10 o’clock I was doing dressing changes in the OR Bloc . . . there was a call for me. It was our OB who lives next door . . . she was at my house, R. couldn’t get the washer door open and neither could the OB. Akwai wahala (there’s a problem). I told her not to worry, I would come.
An hour later I was able to go down and it was running. The OB had managed to push some buttons to get it started again. But after a few minutes, the whole thing was off. I tried the door. It opened! I don't know how, but it did. PTL!
I started pulling out the clothes as R. watched. ‘Babu wahala!’ (no problem!) I told R. She wasn’t convinced. The more I took out, the wetter the clothes were. Then we saw the whole bottom of the washer was filled with water. R. gave me an ‘I told you so’ look. As I took a few more things out, the water began pouring out of the door, all over my feet and the floor. ‘AKWAI WAHALA!’ I admitted. And simultaneously the two of us began to laugh. And we laughed and laughed.
There’s something about that bond that comes from a shared disaster experience between two people that don’t speak the same language. It’s a beautiful moment. Once the clothes were out, the floor flooded, and the washer back on spin-cycle to get rid of the residual water, R. and I shared the last bit of chocolate mousse from last night’s pizza fiasco.
Not sure exactly went wrong . . . could have been that the water from the tap was too hot inside the machine (it is the temperature of the ground after all) . . . but I choose to blame the nearly every 15 minutes power-outages.