Ha! I can hear you laughing. A grown woman, thinks she’s all capable and mature, but can’t even do her own laundry!
Please. It’s not like that. Give me a chance to explain just why I was unable to do my laundry for a month since landing in Vienna.
I arrived at my new apartment (and home for the next 5 months) late on a Wednesday night. The guy who gave me my keys briefly pointed out the laundry room. “It’s really simple,” he said. “You just load up your bank card, then insert it here and its 1 Euro per wash, 1 Euro per dry.” Ahuh, tired me thought. Sure. How difficult can that be?
The next day, I went back to investigate. Hang on, I thought to myself, load up my bank card? What does that mean?
It turns out that you could only operate the washing machine and dryer if you had an Austrian bank card; one which has a special function where you can load money onto it for the sole purpose of stupid machines like this. My Australian bank cards, including my travel cards, were not accepted, and there was not so much as a coin slot in sight.
So, off I went to open a bank account. “Your card should arrive within 2-3 business days,” the kind woman behind the counter told me. 7 business days later I was still twiddling my thumbs. My clothes supply was dwindling.
When the card did finally arrive, I hadn’t yet understood the concept of loading money onto it. I tried inserting it into the machine, only to be told I had 0 Euro balance. I had no idea what to do. How do I get balance? It was evening, and all the banks were closed. Nevertheless, I wandered out onto the streets, searching for answers. Maybe the solution would come to me in the rustle of the leaves.
This didn’t happen. There were no leaves, it being still Winter. Nevertheless, I found an ATM and attempted to find a ‘load’ option for my card. I was highly unsuccessful in this task, perhaps due to the fact that there was no English option on this ATM. I then found an English-speaking ATM literally 5 meters away. Hi, it said as I inserted my card, you could have saved yourself all that hassle with the other ATM if you’d just come to me first, you imbecile. I found an option: ‘Easy and Quick Load’. Anything but, I thought, as I selected it. It seemed to work. I now had 20 Euro loaded on my card.
Now I was physically able to do my laundry. But I still had no idea how to work these Austrian machines. All the options and instructions were in German.
After a quick google search, I found hundreds of websites dedicated to the niche art of understanding the German-speaking washing machines. Comforted in the knowledge that at least I wasn’t alone, I attempted my first load of washing.
Now, three months later, I still don’t think I have the hang of it.