The battle of the washing machine

Written by Emma Moss

Living in very close proximity to people in an isolated place, you learn a lot about yourself and the people you’re living with. Some people are good at reading situations, they know just the right time to back off, go for a walk or quit the jokes. Others sometimes butt heads.

Nerrima from the air.

There were two people that worked at Nerrima that, despite being good mates, often butted heads. For the sake of the story, Person 1 will be Izzy and Person 2 will be Kip.

Between the nine of us, we all shared one washing machine (of dubious quality and age) for majority of the year. Because we all finish work at the same time and only had limited hours near the homestead, it’s not uncommon to create a “line” system. Generally, the unwritten rule is you take out a person’s clean washing from the machine, put it in their basket, and then put your washing on. It is also worth noting that each load took about 2.5 hours for some unknown reason.

Kip is notorious for his laid-back attitude and irregular cleaning and washing routine. He had put his dirty clothes next to the machine and they had been there for a couple of days. One morning when Izzy started to fill the machine before putting her load on, Kip decided that it was foul play and slipped his washing in. Izzy disagreed and placed his clothes in the sink and replaced hers in the machine. We were having a day around the homestead, welding latches back on to the home yards, taking bins to the tip, fixing tyres etc. A perfect day for the battle to take place.

Just like most mornings, we had breaky and discussed the daily plans. We washed our plates, cleaned our teeth before Kip discovered the code breaking load. Instead of letting it slide, he spotted an opportunity. As far as he was concerned he would gain 3 wins – clean washing, seeking justice and stirring the ever simmering pot between him and Izzy.

The clothes were placed on the not-so-clean floor and replaced with his clothes in the machine. He won that battle but certainly not the war.

Little did he know, Izzy had been asked to get some tools left at the house after another job. After an hour or so, walking past the washing machine, she saw a pile looking suspiciously like her clothes. On further inspection, they were her clothes. The pot was successfully stirred, she was not going to let the clothes swap slip under the radar. No, she too had to seek fairness.

Mid load, Kips clothes were removed from the machine and thrown off the other side of the verandah onto some grass. She put her clothes back in the washing machine. Justice restored, back to work. Not quite.

Approximately an hour later, Kip was doing the bin run. He walked around some dongas to find a pile of clothes on the grass that looked suspiciously like his. On further inspection it was his pile of clothes. A bit taken back and probably secretly happy. The war was on.

Momentarily the bins were forgotten, and the washing became his center of attention. His clothes were on the grass, he could do better than that. How about some dirt? He put his clothes back into the machine, rightfully their position of washing machine line up and threw Izzy’s into some dirt nearby. That will teach her for breaking washing machine codes. Satisfied, he returned to collecting rubbish and bins around the house.

A call on the radio came to the shed. Izzy was to go around a nearby weaner paddock where the manager thought there might be a break in the fence. She had to go and pack lunch as she would be occupied with fence checking for the remainder of the afternoon. On her way to the kitchen to quickly make a sandwich, she saw a pile of clothes in the dirt that looks suspiciously like hers. On further inspections they were her, now very dirty, clothes.

Right, one last swap, this time just on the verandah. Her clothes would be clean, she would be back at the house before everyone else knocked off and she would hang them up. Game over.

An important part of war is planning battles and planning for a change in plan. Something Izzy did not account for when lunch time came early. Now away from the front-line, her plan was vulnerable – just like her clothes. At this point no one else was aware of the ongoing war inside the Nerrima boundaries apart from Izzy and Kip. Kip wanted to keep it this way.

Kip saw a pile of clothes on the verandah that looks suspiciously like his. On further inspection, they were his clothes. Not in the grass or dirt, so a semi white flag but not a game finisher. No, they were too far in to pull out now.

As everyone left lunch to go back to work, Kip took the opportunity to finish the battle. He took all of Izzy’s clothes out of the machine and threw them up on the roof. Not just in a pile but spread out. Half soapy and in a perfect position to dry in a crunchy condition. Kip returned to the shed a couple minutes after everyone else with a smirk on his face. A little too happy to be returning to work in nearly 40 degrees after a short stint in the aircon but no-one thought too much of it.

About 4.30pm Izzy returned from her fence checking. No one else had noticed the clothes on the roof as we were busy going about our respective jobs. But the battle of the washing machine on her mind, Izzy looked over to the donga to see a very colourful roof. Right, Izzy marched over to the shed, steam coming out of her ears, to find the head-stockwoman. The war had gone too far, whether is was reporting the situation or ‘dibba dobbing’ is another quarrel between the two, but Izzy had had enough.

Being early on in the year, the head-stockwoman was not yet used to playing the almost mother role for two of her ringers / very big children. Trying not to laugh at the ridiculousness of the fight, she adjudicated the war. Ending with Kip having to reluctantly climb on the roof and return the clothes into reaching distance. Izzy had to let Kips washing finish and help him hang it up before putting her washing on for the fourth time.

Amongst all the hard work and long days, Kip and Izzy did not fail to keep our days entertaining. Although we were in the desert, it was not always the most quiet and tranquil place. Mainly if one of the two decided to pick up the spoon and start stirring the ever simmering pot.