A few days ago, I was doing our laundry in the
basement of our small apartment building.
After washing one load, I put it in the dryer, filled the washer with a
second load, and went back to our apartment.
I came down an hour later, expecting to find both washer and dryer
cycles finished. Instead, I found them
still going. The LED on the washer
indicated that there were still forty-seven minutes remaining in its
cycle. I interrupted the dryer cycle and
found that the clothes were still very damp.
What was going on?
My first thought was that I’d forgotten to turn both
the dryer and the washer on after loading.
had previously done so occasionally on one machine or the other but never both
at the same time. Since both machines
were now running, of course, there was no logic to my thinking, but it took a
while for that to sink in.
It took me a bit to realize I should open the washer
to see what was in there. I was
surprised and a little confused to find clothes belonging to someone else. How did they get there? Then I noticed a basketful of our dry laundry
on top of the washer. Where did that
come from? Had I forgotten even to put
the clothes into the washer? Had I
forgotten to turn the washer on, which encouraged another person to empty our
dirty laundry from the machine and start washing his? The best way to figure that out, I thought,
was to check the dry clothes in the basket to see if they were clean or
dirty. It wasn’t obvious to me. These were the dark clothes and I couldn’t
remember whether I’d put the light clothes or the dark clothes into the washer
first, so that didn’t help me figure out whether they were clean or dirty. I then reasoned that the clothes in the
basket should be warm if they’d just come out of the dryer, but they were only
slightly warm in the middle of the basket, so what did that mean?
I see now that, as I tried to make sense of the
situation, I somehow couldn’t keep these few bits of information simultaneously
in my mind.
- I’d waited an hour, but both machines are on.
- The washing machine indicates forth-seven minutes left in
- The clothes in the dryer are still damp.
- A basketful of our dry clothes sits on top of the washer.
I stood there going back and forth in my mind,
checking the dry clothes, trying to figure it out. Slowly, bit-by-bit, I realized: Someone else
had come down, taken my dry clothes from the dryer and put them into my empty
laundry basket, then put my wet clothes from the washer into the dryer and
finally started washing his clothes.
Even after I thought of that possibility, however, I wasn’t sure; it
seemed a little complicated. I left the
dryer going to finish its cycle and took the dry clothes to our apartment, but
the uncertainty cleared only slowly.
I had been confused, of course. In previous episodes of confusion, however,
I’d realized I was confused during
the confusion. This time I became aware
only gradually after it was clearing.
In reflecting on this, I notice how episodic my
confusion is. I’m lucid the overwhelming
majority of the time: Over the weekend, I gave a short talk without notes and
led a discussion for an hour and a half without trouble; I can usually figure out
computer complication or keep our finances in order. At our church yearly budget meeting on
Sunday, I was helpful in clarifying some complications. I haven't had much trouble writing this post
and explaining (in a hopefully unconfused way) the state of my confusion. As a general rule, I’m not confused at all,
and then suddenly something like this happens.
As usual, my laundry-room episode didn’t bother me
Things like this are still
more fascinating than troubling.
addition, episodes of obvious impairment resolve those fragments of uncertainty
that still bother me after all the tests
that were normal