How my tampons broke the washer… kind of


I am about to confess one of my most embarrassing moments of my adult life… For those of you who know me well, will understand that making this story public will absolutely mortify me. Why am I about to spill my guts to the world then? Well, I’m actually inspired by a friend of mine, Cristina, who is always putting herself out there (and by Will Smith but that’s a different story). She’s not afraid to let us into her crazy-beautiful head. I am so proud of her and inspired by her. Her courage amazes me!  I feel like telling this story will help me lose my inhibitions and hey, we’re all human, right? Plus, this story is soooooo funny!

Now, I must say that I still haven’t told this story to the person that actually owns this washing machine. Although I recruited the help of his brother and sister-in-law (and I’m pretty sure they’ve told him the real story but, because they are really great people have spared me the embarrassment of letting me know they’ve outed me), I haven’t actually confessed this… yet. Miguel, if you ever read this, I’m truly sorry! Lo siento muchísimo! Mil perdones…

So, here it goes. The story of the Spanish washing machine and how I broke it with a box of tampons…


A little over two years ago I went to live in Asturias, Spain for an internship during my graduate studies. I was working at a program at a study abroad office that coincidentally was the same program I went through while an undergrad. No one really believes me when I say that it truly was a coincidence that I ended up in the same city twice! When looking for internships, the coordinator set me up with one that sounded perfect for me! When I found out it was in Spain I was happy. When I found out it was in the same city I studied in 7 years earlier working for the same office I studied with, I was ecstatic!  So, because I still had great friends in Oviedo, I ended up rooming with a good friend of mine, Miguel, who is a gem and such a good friend of mine. We spent a whole year becoming good friends the first go-around and had kept in touch when I moved back to the States. He was kind enough to let me room with him while I was working in Spain almost seven years later. I was very happy to be living with someone I knew, for many reasons. Now, moving in with a man as a married woman was actually easier than I thought… Accept for the part where if ‘woman’ things came up, and wasn’t living with my husband and it is way more embarrasing! The only man I had lived with, ever, was my husband. Furthermore in Spain, I was living with a man who had only lived with his sister and mother. And those women were outnumbered by 6 other men in the house!

Okay, back on track. Not too long after I moved in, I had started the habit of putting my dirty clothes in a plastic bag in my closet so that I could wash them later (make-shift hamper). One day (I think it was the weekend because I wasn’t working but my roommate was) I went to wash my clothes. I took out the plastic bag from the closet and threw the whole thing in the wash while holding onto the bottom of the bag. The bag was full of clothes and I just shoved everything in. The washer is a typical Spanish washer that is a front-loader with a glass window in front (I happen to have a very similar model at home now). Well, when I came into the kitchen a bit later to check on my clothes (yes, in Spain washers are kitchen appliances much like dishwashers and refrigerators) I saw that the load was done and the clothes were washed. I also saw ABOUT FIVE SOGGY AND EXPANDED TAMPONS STUCK TO THE GLASS!!!!!

I had forgotten that the plastic bag I had been putting my clothes in was the same bag I had taken my tampons home with from the grocery store!!!! I didn’t even realize that I had been putting clothes into a bag with a box of unopened tampons. So, I went to open the washing machine to get these soggy tampons out of my clothes when… here it gets bad… THE HANDLE BROKE AND I COULDN’T OPEN THE DOOR!

Imagine me freaking out! I have a washer full of expanded tampons stuck to the glass and I can’t open it to get them out! You can imagine all the things running through my head: OMG, OMG what am I going to do?! My male roommate is coming home in a few hours and I’m going to have to explain this! AAAAAND, if we have to call to get someone to fix the door, they are going to see this too! So, I decided to call Miguel’s sister-in-law, Elena. She is a wonderful woman who is so sweet and kind and has had the experience of living abroad before and was perfect person to call in this situation! I dialed Elena’s number but she didn’t answer. I left her a message telling her that I had a problem and that I was hoping she could help me… Time past and time past. I was freaking out so much that I decided to leave the house to calm me down. All I could think about were my wet tampons stuck to the glass just waiting to embarrass the hell out of me.  So, I went down the street to a coffee shop to sit and think about how I was going to explain this fiasco to my roommate…

Then, Elena called. I was sitting at a coffee shop with two old Spanish women sitting next to me. The whole time I was there they were gossiping about so-and-so’s son and whoziwhats’s neighbor. Now, not to generalize but old Spanish women get their kicks off of small-town gossip as much as another. I didn’t want to sit there telling my tampon-washing-machine story with these two blue hairs sitting there knowing that they’d listen in and run home to talk about the crazy foreign girl with hygiene issues.

¡Ay por Diossss, qué chavala más tonta!

I knew that Elena had spent some time in England working and had even heard her English. It is very, very good so I thought that I would tell her the story in English so that the two gossip-queens wouldn’t over hear. I proceded to tell her the story of the tampons, the broken handle and how I didn’t want Miguel to find out! Elena tells me that she is going to call her husband, Miguel’s brother, to come fix the washer. “Noooooo! I don’t want Javi to see this either! Please explain to him that I didn’t know the tampons were in there!!” I knew that this was my fate, that someone was going to see the mess I made but I was glad, at least, that it was a married man. I was glad that it was someone who had lived with a woman and had a little perspective and compassion…

So, Javi the engineer comes over to save the day! I was embarrassed but thought, ‘oh well, it will all be over soon.’ Javi came in to evaluate the damage. He stood there for a little and looked at the washer… and looked some more. He looked at me, and then back down to the washer… He tried jiggling the handle and trying to get it open but it just wouldn’t budge. We tried many things but without breaking it off completely, he didn’t know what else to do. It had been about 15 to 20 minutes of trying to get it open and we knew that we should at least open the washer. Javi and Elena were so nice not to talk about the tampons. They were trying to be considerate of my feelings. Or so I thought…

Elena left the room to find some more tools and when she did, Javi looked over at me and the following conversation took place:

Javi (in a concerned voice): “Amandita… um…why did you wash your tampons?”

Me (realizing that for the last 20 minutes he didn’t know what happened with the box but was too afraid to say anything until now): “WAIT, WHAT???!! No, I don’t wash my tampons! They are not used!!! I accidentally washed a box of tampons because they were in the same bag I was putting my dirty clothes in!!! IT WAS AN UNOPENED BOX!!! I thought Elena had explained that to you!”

Elena, hearing the commotion, came back into the room and had heard what I was saying. She explained to me that she didn’t really understand what I was saying on the phone in English. All she knew was that the washer was broken and I needed help. She was honest to say that she was very surprised to come into the kitchen to see the tampons on the glass too… Oh man!

Well, after Javi clearly became more relaxed knowing that these weren’t used tampons stuck to the glass, we had a little laugh about the miscommunication and to make me feel better Elena told me one of her most embarrassing moments (mine is worse). Javi broke into the washer by ripping the handle off (we were going to have to get it fixed anyway and at least now Miguel wouldn’t have to see my ‘dirty laundry’). We got all the tampons out but things were quite a mess from the cardboard box they came in that had disintegrated all over the inside. Miguel came home to know that his washer handle had been broken and we needed someone to come fix it.

His birthday was not too long after this incident so for his present I gave him a toy washer with an apology card saying that I got him a new washer.

To this day (maybe) Miguel doesn’t know the real story of the broken machine. I’m willing to bet that Javi and Elena have had more than a few laughs about this one. Honestly, so have I. Now I think it’s a really funny story and am looking forward to telling to Miguel in person one day…

One response »

  1. Amanda this is horribly, amazingly, awesome! Good for you for sharing- I got a big kick out of this. I promise to share my embarrassing moments on my blog now, too. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s