I see in the comments from yesterday that starting our laundry room project has elicited questions from the audience. That’s good. I like those. I ask readers to ask questions. Unfortunately, these were intelligent questions. This presents problems. I avoid those like the plague. Intelligent questions deserve robust, well-considered answers, not fart jokes. I have such a panoply of inanity in my head, compared to the meager supply of potentially intelligent discourse I tote about, that I try to avoid answering intelligent questions if I can. But several readers looked at the pictures I supplied of that staircase, and wondered how we were going to avoid carrying clothes down it, and broken bodies back up it.
I asked my wife the same question. I had to wait until the ringing in her ears from the washer cycle abated a bit, but I slipped the query in eventually. No, that’s not a euphemism, but it has potential. At any rate, I suggested all sorts of expedients to transport the laundry up and down. I conjured schemes of somewhat elaborate laundry chutes and lifts, for instance.
I’ve worked on a few really big houses with bona fide laundry chutes in them. They’re actually fairly complex. Of course, I assured my wife that I’d cheat on the rules for a laundry chute. Everyone pictures some sort of public pool habitrail slide between floors when they picture a laundry chute. The building code frowns on that sort of thing. Just detailing the thing to keep fire from spreading between floors lickety-split will give you an aneurysm. There is no child yet born who will not try to ride a tube into a giant tub of fluffy laundry, followed by a spell in traction, because everyone from Bugs Bunny to SpongeBob SquarePants has done it while they watched. Dumbwaiter arrangements are even more complicated, and fraught with the potential for additional misadventures.
Mrs. Cottage immediately shot down every idea. She pointed out that all they did was add complexity to the process of doing the laundry, and the more important process of waiting for me to build the laundry, and she didn’t have time for any of that. She reminded me that I was attempting to make things easier and more pleasant, not more complicated. Well, I was supposed to be attempting it.
It’s an important concept to grasp, and everyone, including me for a few hours there, has completely forgotten it. I’ve boiled it down to an aphorism:
Adding another layer of something almost never improves much of anything.
The laundry is collected into baskets. The baskets are toted to the washer and dryer. The clean laundry is folded and returned to the baskets. The baskets are carried back to where the dirty laundry was generated, and the laundry put away. Adding another step to save trouble would only cause trouble. She knew it in her bones, and I knew she was right.
The world is currently in the throes of adding a multitude of electronic steps to every process in order to automate it. This is supposed to increase efficiency. I just spent two days of my life trying to get a phone number changed from one account to another at the same phone carrier. I went to one of their brick and mortar businesses first, and they couldn’t do it. I spent several hours filling out self-service forms on the internet, which didn’t work, of course. They added contusions to your mental abrasions by not working only after you’ve already entered enough information about yourself that even a coroner wouldn’t ask for it. And on two devices, at that.
Then I was treated to an around the world tour. Piquant pronunciation and flowery fricatives rained down on me from every continent, save one, I think. I didn’t hear any penguin sounds, but other than that, I was adrift on an esperanto iceberg for hours on end. All of that, every bit of it, layer after layer of abstraction and abstrusion, was an electronic laundry chute put in place to avoid having to do the work of one competent person with a pencil and paper and a desk phone. You could, you know, carry all that in a little basket.
So I’m going to make the laundry room better, not more complicated. Because I understand the process. I understand construction. I understand budgets. Because I understand my wife, a little, and want her to be happy. But most of all because I understand that the next day, the phone didn’t work anyway.
[To be continued]