by Kelli Pastore
In the United States, many people have washing machines where the dirty water empties into a floor drain. This is not the case in my Italian apartment. My washing machine had a hose that is attached to the side of the bathtub. The dirty water is then disposed of through the bathtub drain. While finding this a bit odd, my roommate and I did not pay much attention to it…. At first.
After we did the laundry the first time, we noticed that there was what appeared to be dirt around the bathtub drain. This was not a big deal because we just ran some water and the dirt went away. The problems began after jeans were washed. We came home to a bright, denim, blue colored tub that was not draining properly. The cause of the backup was wet lint and hair. Our landlord had installed drain covers so that nothing but water would drain. We had to scoop and scrape the wet lint, hair, and dirt from the drain in order to get it to function properly. This was not the last time this would need to be done.
While the two of us found this pretty gross, it is apparently not uncommon for Italians to have a set up similar to ours. It does make sense that this would be a fairly common practice since the buildings around Cagli are so old. When they were built, there was no plumbing or electric. The cost to add the additional plumbing and drain system for a washing machine could be outrageous. The cheapest and easiest would be to drain into the bathtub.
Looking back on this experience, there are several things that stand out to me. First, I could have used the cultural specific approach before my arrival in the hopes to better educate myself on what could have been happened. I may have been able to find and article somewhere that would have better prepared me for laundry time here in Cagli. Secondly, there was an assumed similarity from my perspective, which resulted in a bit of a stumbling block. I assumed that these small little things would be just as they were in the U.S. And finally, this is an example of our journey along the u-curve. In the beginning, we were just excited to be here and have access to a washing machine, and then we were a bit shocked that the machine was drained in the manner in which it was, and finally, we just accepted the situation for what it was. There was nothing we could do to change it. In retrospect, cleaning out a drain cover isn’t the worst task I had ever done. No harm, no foul.