Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The French Laundry (June 2005)

Unfortunately for us, we had some great pictures of the laundry incident but on our way to Paris on the TGV we learned a good lesson about traveling in foreign countries: never leave your seat with personal items still there. Yes, that's right, we did just that and some unfriendly individual lifted our camera. We therefore lost not only the laundry pictures but also all of our pictures of Geneva where we toured for several hours before catching our train. Oh well, live and learn.

Back to the laundry.

We got in with ample time to spare as far as getting laundry and packing done. Doug offered to do the laundry while I cleaned up the place a bit and also fixed our left-over food for consumption. "Okay!" I said, pleased that I didn't have to do it.

Doug went to our manager's office, gave her euro notes and she kindly gave him enough euro coins to get all the laundry done. She also led him out of her office and showed him where the laundry facility was, as he wasn't sure. The stairs to the laundry were right near her office. The washers, dryers and ironing equipment was located in the gym up the stairs. He filled the washers and when the washing was done, filled the dryers. I expected him in about an hour. After an hour and a half I began to worry, but thought he must just have a lot of ironing or perhaps the washer/dryer was slow. I went ahead and prepared the meal, poured myself a glass of wine and sat to await Doug. I had no idea where the laundry was, so couldn't go check on him.

As I sat there, a woman began to pound on my door. She spoke only French, so I didn't know what she was so upset about. I opened the door and it was the woman and her boy that I'd seen earlier. She had a very worried look on her face and was very excited and I began to pick up words that I understood, like "your husband" and "come quick." Oh no, I thought, he's had a heart attack or something horrible has happened to him. She told me to get my key (I understood that, too) and she motioned for me to follow her. We wound up another floor up and a couple of hallways away and I found myself in their apartment. She motioned for me to continue following, so I did and she was pulling me out a sliding glass door that led to the pool area. I still didn't get it.

She joined her husband and they all began pointing to a window above eight feet above the pool deck on the other side of the pool. There was Doug! He was looking out the window and I yelled and asked what was going on. He said the manager had not checked to see if anybody was in the laundry. There was a door at the bottom of the stairs and she locked it! Doug had been pounding for nearly an hour and because nobody was staying at the place and the manager had left for the day, nobody heard him. Finally he climbed up on some equipment and could see out the window just a bit and he started pounding on the window. He was just about ready to throw a barbel through the window that was screwed shut when he saw a Frenchman who had come out of the sliding glass door below and was talking on his cell phone. Doug began pounding wildly on the window and eventually the man saw him. Through the use of a universal sing language, he got the point across that he needed a screwdriver to open the window more than 2 inches so he could climb out.

When I arrived the window was fully opened and Doug was climbing (or jumping, it was too high) out! Before I could tell him he needed to bring our clothes because the manager would not be in until well after we had to leave to catch our train in the morning, he had already jumped! Now he had to some how pull himself up by jumping to catch onto the bottom of this window now eight feet above him and then pull himself (all 200 pounds and 6 feet) to get our clothes. He scraped himself pretty good but with an audience of French people watching him, he had to do it right and act like it was a piece of cake. Soon clothes were flying out the window and the young boy ran around to try to pick up the clothes and was just in time to catch the iron and ironing board before they went into the pool.

We thanked the nice people who came to our rescue and settled back in our apartment. Doug was furious with the manager and it's probably good that she'd not be there when we left in the early morning hours. She may not read English, but he did leave a scathing note under her door telling her what happened and that next time she should make sure the laundry is empty before she locks the door and leaves for the night.

We now tell the story to friends and laugh about it, but at the time it was not so funny. We had no trouble finishing that bottle of wine either!

We're fairly certain that we won't be visiting Megève any time soon.

Next post: Paris (j'adore Paris!)


  1. A good story

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  2. Dear Co-Cheese & Wine Lover (and no doubt helplessly but gratefully francophile like me!): Thanks for the comment and info re cheese, I'll surely want to pick it up since food, wine, poetry, writing...and, of course, France, are a joyous part of life for us two vagabonds. Merci beaucoup (from France, of course). Lennie