Life Stories Portugal

That Time I Nearly Broke My AirBNB’s Portuguese Washing Machine

How to Fix a Jammed Washing Machine Door

Lisbon and I get along for the most part – but there’s always that one thing. In this case, it’s the washing machines. If you’re a subscriber to our YouTube channel, you would already know that Jo and I also, despite speaking fluent French, could not figure out how to turn the washing machine on. Here in Portugal, it’s the same issue.

The first day I arrived in Lisbon, I arrived late – this was the first annoying thing I did. “Hi, my train won’t arrive until 8:30pm, is that ok?” I arrived around 9pm, where I was greeted by a bubbly Brazilian, Sinara. She toured me around, and I thought I was paying attention to everything she was saying but apparently not.

A few days into my stay, it was unfortunately time to do my laundry again, so I texted Sinara, “Oi. Is there detergent anywhere, or should I go buy some?” She responds “It’s in the storage closet.” Oh yeah, I remember she told me that.

The next day, I needed to make an extra payment. The place I’m staying is a co-working space during the day and co-living space the rest of the time, so some of the people work and live in the same building. Sinara, my host, works here. The next mistake went like this “Oi oi! I have your payment. Where would you like me to leave it?” “You can leave it in an envelope under my office door.” I would have done that…if I remembered which door it was – I remember she also told me that on the tour. I text back an awkward “Wow, I must have been sleeping already when I arrived, which door is yours again?” Eek.

Then it came time to do laundry. Oh wow. There were two washing machines so I loaded both of them up – one with whites and the other with colors. Both wouldn’t close until I slammed them shut with my entire body weight behind my shoulder. The machine with the colors, I was able to turn on, but don’t ask me to do it again; I won’t know how.

When my cycle is over, I try moving my whites to the washing machine my colors were in, but I notice the door is jammed shut. Shut-shut, as in don’t-even-try-to-open-this-door-cuz-you’re-gonna-break-it shut. I mean, the door handle already was half-broken (probably because someone had this same issue), so really, If I were to yank it open, I would probably break it entirely. Great. I hear a noise at the front door and I freak out because I think it’s Sinara. I peek around the kitchen corner and phew, it’s just a man. “Oi, do you know how to work the washing machine?”

How to Fix a Broken Washing Machine Door

He drops off his laptop and white wine bottle on the counter and speaks to me in his thick Spanish accent,

“Oh, well I’ve never used that one.”

And that’s when it hit me. He had been here for five months already; what do you mean you have never used this machine? Have you never had this much laundry to do in five months? Ohhhh yeaaaahhhh that’s right, cuz WE’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO USE THAT MACHINE: Again, Sinara told me that…ON THE TOUR.

Great.

Maybe tomorrow I can find the cleaning lady and sneakily ask her what to do; maybe could hire a mechanic to stop by, cuz if I try to yank this door open right now, it. will. break. I go to bed, nervous that I’ll have to pay for a new European washing machine.

The next morning, I run to do all my stuff super early in the morning – I literally woke up at 6:10am to go film a video, so I could rush back home before she saw there were clothes in the laundry machine to figure out a solution. When I arrive home, I quickly log in to the WiFi, ears perked up for the slightest turn of the doorknob, and do my quick Google searches “how to open a jammed washing machine door.” Apparently this happens all the time? Yes! That’s what mine looks like! A YouTube video? Perfect! Ok, I need a string to tie around the seal of the door to yank the lever. Is there any string here in this AirBNB? None that I have seen. And I’m not even going to dare bother Sinara with another one of my annoying text messages about something she probably had gone over in the tour anyway.

I sit back, sigh, and face the truth: I’m going to have to tell her. If I have to pay, I have to pay. That’s when I look down at my black high-top converse and a light bulb went off. I grab my right shoe and unlace my shoe lace. I run back to the jammed washing machine door, slide the shoe string through a tiny space I’m able to pull away from the door, grab some scissors to help grab the shoelace to pull it down through the space past the lever, and I yank the shoe lace. I feel my lace about to snap, but at this point, it’s better my shoe lace than this washing machine. I yank harder and just when I feel my lace fraying, I hear the pop of the laundry gods, and the door swings open.

Who knew all this excitement would have happened from a Portuguese washing machine?

The best part: even if I would have broken the machine, I’m almost positive that her response would have been,

“Tudo bem, Damon, tranquilo!”

Oh Sinara, you’re so Brazilian.signature

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  • Guinevere Wightman

    Omg, Damon, you have so many problems with laundry machines! Hahaha 😂 xx

    • Guinevere Wightman

      But I can’t talk because I had the same issues in Italy this summer 🙈

      • Don’t even let me try to work an Italian washing machine!

  • Rachel Schastok

    Hey, would you be willing to share which airbnb place this was? I’m a translator living in Madrid and I can work remotely, and I think it could be awesome to try out a combo coworking/coliving space like this and spend a week in Lisbon or something!

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