In the fifth part of our series “A landlady’s life”, our author puzzles over why some guests waste their wonderful holiday freedom in washing orgies.
Forgive me if I don’t word this text in a gender-appropriate way, the target group I’m talking about today is, in my experience, 99% female. I don’t know if this is a German phenomenon, I don’t have international comparative statistics. What I do know is that doing the washing on holiday is sometimes a real compulsion for women. As if the success of the holiday depends on the skin-deep cleanliness of the T-shirts.
A very good friend of mine, who definitely has no housewife aspirations, always selects “pool, Wi-Fi, dishwasher, washing machine” as a filter when choosing her accommodation. She explains to me that this is how she narrows down the offer. Probably a clever move from a management seminar that can be perfectly applied to holiday decisions. The washing machine, she adds with a serious look, is vital. Since a family holiday together, I can confirm this. While I was lying in the sun on the deck chair in a grubby shirt, she was running through all the rooms collecting laundry – every day! That was my first holiday where I came back home with clean clothes in my suitcase.
As a landlady, I look at the compulsion to do the washing on holiday from another perspective. Our washing machine runs and runs and runs. Rarely full, but always on a full programme. Fresh beach towels are a must and giving the kids their favourite shirt without chocolate ice cream stains is seemingly pure holiday bliss. While most people escape from everyday life on holiday, others try to be – well, what, actually? To be perfect here too? To not get out of practice? Or to relax while doing housework? Sometimes I want to take the laundry baskets out of the women’s hands, put my arm around their shoulders, look deep into their eyes and say: you’re on holiday! But if holiday happiness depends on doing the washing, then I don’t want to stand in the way of that either. Like the young mother who had been looking for my assistant for several hours with a desperate expression on her face. Having arrived yesterday, she absolutely had to do the washing today. Her little son’s trousers. I spared myself and her a lecture on sustainability and unlock the laundry room. Or the lady who assumed that a daily towel service is also included in holiday apartments. After a few days of her holiday, she handed my assistant her used towels and kindly asked for new ones. By way of response the latter explained that the towels she had ordered were included in a laundry service for the entire holiday period. From then on, the lady in question washed the towels in the washing machine. Daily. Obviously a form of self-defence against poor service.
Our laundry room for guests is open twenty-four seven. Am I doing my female guests a favour with that? I don’t know. Because what, I ask myself after many years as a landlady, comes first: the need or the opportunity? Are women on holiday happier without a washing machine perhaps? Because where there is no machine, there is no compulsion. Yesterday’s jumper – works, the socks – can still be worn and the beach towel – will get dirty again tomorrow anyway.
But I confess: I too do the washing when I’m on holiday, but only if I can’t avoid it and the clean contents of my suitcase have unfortunately disappeared too soon. Then I am very glad that I have a washing machine. But I notice from the increased activity in our laundry room just before the departure days that there is another reason for doing the washing: Apparently there is a great need to come home from holiday with clean clothes. Then our guest sits happily at home again, puts the clothes in the cupboard and thinks: What a pity that the holiday is already over again!
Published: August 2022
Coverphoto: Dmitri Aslanov / Unsplash