As a departure from my usual employee engagement, leadership, self-development articles I wanted to tackle a huge issue that fascinates yet concerns me.
A Nation at War
Across the nation, a cold, wet and clammy war is being waged. Men are crossing the line. The clothesline. Yes, there at the base of the great Aussie Hills Hoist rotary clothesline, there is more tension than we’ve seen since the Cold War between the US and the Soviets last century.
After extensive research including several golf games, a few beers and a couple of morning teas, I have uncovered a carefully guarded secret. There is a real science to hanging out washing and men are apparently clueless when it comes to this task. Ok, the latter half of that sentence is no great revelation. Two things are becoming strikingly evident to me:
Secondly, there is some secret and carefully guarded methodology for hanging out clothes, and it’s Dynamic. It changes, and sometimes as often as you hang out the clothes.
When washing goes wild
On a recent visit to a good mate’s house in the country, we were greeted by my friend at his back gate, carrying a washing basket to the clothesline. Nothing too exceptional about that. So, after my wife and daughter strolled off inside, I decided to add to my great body of research with some simple observations complimented by some carefully scripted questions.
I’d never seen anything quite like it. First he threw a shirt over the line, just folded in half and pegged it right in the middle (about the sternum) with one peg. Yes one peg. Wow. The he threw a handkerchief up folded in half with a peg right in the middle, then another hanging diagonally. Crazy stuff. He just didn’t seem to care. Was I missing something? I was watching over my shoulder in fear –“Surely you can’t do that?” Then came a brassiere. This was going to be good. What would he do with this? I was hopping on the spot. He threw it over, pegged it on the bridge between cups so the cups were just facing each other. I almost had to sit down. But what he told me next nearly blew my mind. The most exciting discovery was his highly innovative approach to handkerchiefs. With only the cows, sheep and a few chooks to critique his outfit, he was free to break all the rules of convention. He told me, sometimes, just sometimes, he folded a wet handkerchief into its neat pocket size squares and hung it on the line like that. Pocket ready. How innovative is that.
In my backyard
Meanwhile, in my backyard, I can run out a line of socks 6 pairs long only just fast enough to keep ahead of my wife as she re-pegs them in disgust. Is it the ankle or the toe you should peg them on? When I hang out the washing and she is at work, sometimes I lose the plot and use 4 pegs on one pair of underpants while laughing hysterically. Of course I always get the washing in before she comes home for fear of being found out. Do you peg the jeans inside out, by the ankles or the waist, or a shirt under the arms, by the tail, buttoned or unbuttoned? Don’t get me started on a fitted sheet. I don’t believe there is anyone, particularly a man, who has a workable and logical system for hanging a fitted sheet. Just trying to keep a sheet off the fresh cut lawn while you hang it, is a big enough challenge without optimising its drying capability.
The big questions
I have a couple of questions. Where does this secret hanging information come from? Who has access to it? How is it passed on longitudinally between generations, or laterally between families and friends? Who’s leading the research in this field? Why don’t men have access to it? And if you think men are not hanging out the washing these days, you’re not mixing in my circles. We need help (not sure we really want it).
The takeaways (short and sweet)
So, you spent 5 minutes reading this article and now you want a takeaway. Of course there are plenty, like, it’s ok to make mistakes, your undies will dry out in the end, it’s ok to relinquish control, and we are a long way from understanding all the opportunities there are for creating efficiencies from handkerchief hang outs. Open up the communication. It’s a good thing to share the information. And lastly, you don’t always have to take things so seriously. Gender Equality is an issue I really believe in, but sometimes we just need a day off an an opportunity to laugh at ourselves. After all, there is plenty to laugh at.