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My Mondays sans la Grosse Vache


I walk into the laundry room. All of the lines are full of clothes none of which are mine. It is Monday. The only day I can do my family’s laundry. This is the second week that the dryer has been broken. Last week, I hung my clothes all over my apartment. I will not do it again.

I was letting the woman that I share Mondays with use all the lines since I have two drying racks in my apartment. The real truth is I just hated sharing the laundry room with her and preferred the alternative.

I was tired of listening to her complain that someone is stealing her clothes or whatever crazy thing she came up with that week. Basically, she is a suspicious person who likes to cause problems.

The first week we were here, she had her daughter knock on every single apartment door in our building asking if the tenant had taken one of their yellow towels. I knew then that she was going to be one of those people. My gut instinct about her was right on the mark.

The problem is that since the dryer was broken the amount of laundry to dry was more than my apartment could handle. We were literally buried in towels.

I nicely asked this woman who I had the great luck of sharing laundry day with to clear a few of the lines for me since the dryer is broken. She tells me it is not possible. I tell her it doesn’t matter because I need the lines and it is my turn to do laundry. Her time is the morning and mine is the afternoon.

I keep my temper in check waiting for her response. She looks me straight in the eyes, “You need to find another day to do your laundry. You must check with the other tenants to see if one of them can share their laundry time with you.”

I was stunned.

I reply with equal coldness, “Monday is my day. It’s you that must ask someone to let you wash on their day if you can’t do it all on Monday. It’s your problem. Not mine.”

Actually, it is ironic because she does laundry all week long. She is constantly working out extra days to do laundry with the other tenants. Even if I were willing to (which I was not) it would have been impossible for me to find another day since she washes on those days as well.

She got all snippy with me and told me that she choose Monday when the schedule was first laid out. I explained to her that she choose Monday morning. I have Monday afternoon. She doesn’t get the whole day and must respect that. I felt like I was talking to a small child instead of a grown woman with four children of her own.

The fact was, I was nice by not making her clear out all of her clothes each afternoon for the past seven months. I am to get the entire laundry room when it is my turn and I know it. I see now that she didn’t warrant my kindness.

My husband had warned me not to be nice with her or it would cause problems later. I hate when he is right.

I remained unbelievably calm when I told her, “I will have to call the landlord and discuss with him how it is that you can tell me that I am not able to do my laundry on Monday afternoon like it is scheduled…See? Right here.” I place my finger on Monday afternoon on the schedule which is hanging conveniently right above the machines. “I am sure he will be interested to have you explain this to him.”

Instantly, she changes her tune. Smiling her sickly fake smile, she tells me, “But, you don’t understand. Let me explain again…Slower.”

Each time I have a conflict with this woman (this is not the first) she tells me I don’t understand. Meaning, my French is so bad that I think she is being a grosse vache (big cow) but in fact she is just a very nice person. It is all a misunderstanding due to my poor French.

In truth, my French is better than hers.

I made sure that was the last time Grosse Vache tried to pull that one on me.

I stopped and turned. I firmly stated, “Madame, choc fois tu me dis que je ne comprends pas. Mais, je comprends. Tout!“* It was her turn to be stunned.

That was two months ago.

In the end, I think she learned a lesson.

She ended up having to switch her day to Friday afternoons while I kept my day. The laundry schedule now clearly states that all clothing from the morning person must be cleared by two in the afternoon allowing room for the afternoon person.

I have the entire laundry room to myself with all seven lines.

The best part is that I don’t have to deal with Grosse Vache each and every Monday. I can’t stress how wonderful that is.

It means that I never have to talk to her again! Ever.

When I went to the concierge to complain about her I was told it is normal that there was a conflict because two large families were doing their laundry on the same day.

Is it normal? I don’t think so.

I don’t see that it would have been different if we had been a family of three or even two sharing Mondays with Grosse Vache.

The problem was simple. She wanted the entire room to herself.

I clearly explained, “No. It is because one person didn’t respect another person. She failed to understand that I pay the same amount of rent as her. She did not respect that it was my afternoon to do laundry and that she had no right to tell me that I had to find another day. It is not MY problem she has four children. It is HER problem.” Of course, they had to agree.

You have to understand I have been dealing with Grosse Vache for seven long months.

I explained that for seven months, SEVEN longgggggg months, I had let her take most and many times all of the lines in the laundry room when I knew I could have made her clear out the room. Often, her clothes were dry and she would leave them up all night instead of clearing them out for me.

She made sure I understood that she didn’t like anyone to touch her clothes. If I were to take down her clothes she would have been angry. Frankly, I didn’t care if she was angry or not. I simply didn’t want to touch another person’s clothes.  Especially hers. Yuck.

The thing is, I was trying to work with her when I understood I did not have to work with her. I was being nice. She wasn’t.

Grosse Vache didn’t try to come up with a logical and friendly solution to her problem. She didn’t understand that it was not my problem she has four children and has a lot of laundry. I have three children and I manage.

The real issue is that she wanted the whole Monday for herself. No one in this building has an entire laundry day. So, why should she?

By the way, she is still managing to do her laundry all week long working out time during other’s laundry days even if all the other large families do laundry once a week. On their day.

I don’t care what she does as long as she stays off Monday. Why?

I don’t want Grosse Vache accusing me of stealing another yellow towel or moving her clothes. Let me tell ya, Grosse Vache has issues beyond her laundry.

(*Madame, each time you tell me that I don’t understand. But, I understand. Everything!)

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • expatraveler March 13, 2008, 4:10 am

    What an incredible story! And I’m so glad you don’t have to deal with that stupid cow anymore… And you’re french, I’m so jealous I don’t use it enough… By the way, I think the choc you really meant to say “chaque fois” hehe…

  • Pumpkin March 13, 2008, 7:04 am

    Expatraveler, You are right about choc…see! I even write in Franglaise. It is true that I have trouble spelling in English if the word is close in French. I am constantly wondering if I am spelling it the English way or the French way. :)

  • might i add ... ? March 28, 2008, 5:49 am

    I’m impressed that you had the chutzpah to tutoie her! She must have been shocked!

    So, I don’t understand, how can you line-dry your clothes in just half a day? Maybe in the sun, but even when I had a line in the sun, my clothes didn’t always dry in that short of a time. How do you do it indoors?

  • Pumpkin March 28, 2008, 7:34 am

    might i add,
    Since she is not taking up the entire laundry room with her clothes I have seven lines and can leave mine all night to dry since I am the afternoon person. I clear the clothes out by 6:30the next morning. It is better for her now as well since she has Friday afternoons. The problem was that she wasn’t very clever when she picked Monday mornings. She should have picked Monday afternoons in the beginning. ;)

    It is ok now that I can hang my clothes down in the laundry room but I still have to hang some of the chidrens clothes in my bedroom and I crack a window. It was out of control when I had to deal with her. I had clothes literally drapped all over the apartment and windows cracked everywhere. Then, the dryer broke for several weeks and I couldn’t dry my towels. It was a nightmare.

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