Cool People I’ve Met Via TEFL: The Friendly Kiosk Lady and the Laundry Lady

Following the demise of my washing machine, I seem to have found the one reasonbly priced laundromat in all of Eastern Europe, located in the bowels of a student dormitory. For some reason, it’s no problem for me to use it. I pay according to the water temperature. While I like to credit this discovery to my own initiative, two people have been instrumental in the success of this whole endeavor.

The first one is the friendly kiosk lady – friendly in contrast to the one who yelled at me and wouldn’t accept bills from my hand and also just, well, jovial. I approached her with a carefully worded request in Slovak: “Is there a laundromat around here?” But of course when she replied with directions, I didn’t have the language to ask more questions and so reverted to Bosnian. I didn’t understand her but she understood me. She gave me directions, I checked them in Bosnian, and she even made sure I had small enough change. She doesn’t sell Coca-Cola Light or chocolate, so I don’t really have anything to buy from her kiosk, but when I need to replenish my mobile minutes I try to go her.

The second one is the laundry lady herself. When I come in, I tell her how many loads and at what temperature. I’ve mastered the Slovak for this. Sometimes she advises me to choose a different temperature though, and I generally respect her opinion and do so. She writes on my receipt the time at which I should return to pick up my (wet) clothes, and she folds them for me before putting them in the bag. Just today she got out her calendar to show me when they would be closed for Christmas. Sometimes, if I come when she is chatting with the cashier at the student mini-mart, she trusts me enough to give me her keys so I can go downstairs and collect my laundry myself.

I meet a lot of nice people – but these two stick out as particularly notable in their willingness to put up with the probably senseless questions of a rather clueless foreigner.