Wednesday, October 15, 2008

No Dirty Laundry Here!

So the blog is titled “Life in a Group Home,” but I’ve yet to write about living in a group home. We live in a home with 12 developmentally disabled adults and let me say, it’s never boring. There are many interesting things about the people we live with, but I think we are most intrigued, and sometimes most put out by, their fascination with laundry.

When we first moved in, we all noticed that every morning, the dialogue would center on whose laundry day it was. And I don’t just mean, “it’s so and so’s laundry day.” I mean this conversation could go on for 30 minutes to an hour. Then as soon as they were off the bus in the afternoon, there was a mad dash for the laundry room. I’ve never known anyone so eager to do laundry. However, we soon noticed that they are just as eager for the laundry to be done. This means that they would stand in the laundry room leaning over the washing machines waiting for the cycle to finish. But wait is a relative term; because you know when the lid to the washing machine is lifted the machine stops. And around here, that means it’s done. Time to put them in the dryer, even if that means having to fish for them in a pool of soapy water. The same is true with the dryer. It doesn’t matter if the buzzer has gone off, or if the clothes are still dripping wet. If the door is opened and the dryer stops, then that means it’s done. Almost always, it only took about 15-20 minutes before they were opening lids and doors and pulling laundry out. We were constantly monitoring the laundry situation.

Then about a year ago, we needed a new washing machine. (They tend to go out quickly here from all the starting and stopping.) The salesman suggested a new model, where all you have to do is push the power button. We thought this would be the solution to all of our problems. No more washing two loads worth on the low water level; no more worrying about the water temperature, etc. And the best part – it also had a locking lid, so no more opening the washing machine until it was completely done. Or so we thought.

At first there was much frustration at not being able to open the lid. We tried to explain that it would unlock when it was finished, but this was really not acceptable. So we resorted to diversion techniques. This worked until a new client moved in who would have nothing to do with the locking lid. He quickly figured out that if you just pull on it with everything you have, the locking mechanism breaks and the lid pops right open. And so much for the cool touchpad too. They don’t work very well when they are banged on and multiple buttons pushed at once.

After three new lids and two new touchpads, we thought we got smart and decided to put some childproof locks on the doors. But to no avail – anyone with small children will know that these don’t work. As a matter of fact, one of them actually made it easier to open the door for several of the residents. Right now, the door is latched shut with a bungee cord. Seems to be working for now, but we are always open to better ideas…

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