A Day in a Life of the Washing Machine, Dryer and Printer

Back for a third run, this series of Day in a Life seeks to shine the light on the staff that make our lives in Tembusu smooth and without hitches. In this instalment, Bach sat down with W-2, Dryer-2, and subsequently with Printer A separately to find out what it is like to be Tembusu’s silent heroes.


W-2 is one of five washing machines in 17-C2, also known as the 17th floor Laundry Room. He graduated from Maeda’s Maytag Commercial Laundry Academy with a Bachelor of Hydrodynamics (Distinction) and was posted to Tembusu College in 2011. He prefers to be known as Washy, his nickname since his Academy days.

Dryer-2 is one of the four dryers in 17-C2. She also graduated from Maeda’s Maytag Commercial Laundry Academy with a Bachelor of Thermodynamics (Distinction) before being posted to Tembusu College. She currently works to save up money for her part-time post-graduate study in Thermodynamics.


Bach (B): It is always nice to meet you, but this time, I won’t be requesting any service! Let’s start with a simple question: how do you feel being called Tembusu’s silent heroes?  

W-2 (W): Silent? Where got silent one! Just ask the people living in the suite next to us!

B: How do you usually start your day?

W: There is no start point, and neither is there an ending point. Only occasional rest time in between, but even then, we still need to get ready for work. And how could we not be ready? We are always plugged in and turned on!

D-2 (D): It is usually when the light turns on and someone walks in with a bag of dirty clothes that all of us get ready. My fellow dryers and I get a bit more time to prepare, but not the washing machines. And even then, our work is not that even as frequent as compared to the machines! Some folks just like their clothes air-dried.

B: What is a good day for you? Are there any days that are better than others?

W: A good day is definitely when I can complete as many washing cycles as possible. I really like my job, and I don’t mind the smell at all. After all, the detergent and water help a lot. I do need the help from the students though. Sometimes the clothes are left for me to keep for quite long and end up smelling quite bad due to the damp environment, and other students cannot use me as well.

B: Speaking of which, I notice that whenever you and Dryer-2 are working, there is always a countdown. What does that indicate? Why does the last 5 minutes always feel like 10 minutes?

D: It’s a myth that the countdown indicates when we finish the work cycle. It is actually how much time we want the residents to procrastinate with their work.

W: Some folks complain that my countdown is always shorter than what it actually is. And I thought they like to have more time to rest in between works.

B: What motivates you to do your work?

D: The one-dollar coins.

W: That is the fuel of our lives. In our worst moments when dealing with extremely dirty and mouldy pieces of clothing, we carry on knowing that it is worth one dollar of effort. But it never fails to surprise me how many new one-dollar coins the residents have!

D: I bet the ol’ Printer A should have some information!

B: No worries, I will ask for you. But moving on, what are some highlights of your time in Tembusu?

W: I remember the time of the year when we were needed the most. It was around before recess week of Semester 1 that there was a surge in the number of shirts coming in for washing. Mostly dry-fit shirts. One day I saw this guy with a whole laundry bag of similar coloured shirts, and I wondered ‘wow, why does he have so many shirts of the same kind’ and I figured that he must have helped others for laundry also. Later on, I heard that there was some sport competition in Tembusu, and there were people who need to clean their shirts, but were not willing to spend a dollar for only one shirt. Such a nice and thoughtful initiative, I reckon.

D: Well, we wouldn’t mind washing and drying similar items. It is much easier, and we don’t have to worry about colours running anyway.

B: Let’s go back to the work that you do. I mean, people are definitely aware of you as integral parts of the College. But do you ever feel if you are appreciated as such?

D: I mean we are not doing this as a charity, and we only work when there is payment made. I tend to think that the residents are accustomed to the fact that laundering is a given service in all hostels. And while that should be the case – it means higher employment for us so why not? – residents should consider the times when service was done well, rather than just focusing on the negatives.

B: On a more personal note, what do you do when there is no work? Like when nobody is around?

W: I really do enjoy airing myself. I mean, this room is practically a sauna, and I would not do well without cooling down. And besides, when no one is working, we have the quiet space to gossip about the residents’ terrible sense of fashion.

D: My apologies about the sauna-like conditions.

B: Oh no! Anyway, I think someone is approaching you for laundry service. Last question, where do you see yourselves in the next few years?

W: (Repeal and) Replaced.

D: We will probably need to attend SkillsFuture courses to upgrade ourselves when the next generations of laundry service take over.

B: Alright, thank you so much for your time!


Printer A has been around for as long as the College exists. He was best known for holding the “Best Printer Award” of Tembusu for many years, until his marriage with Printer B. Together with their fellow partners, computer and card dispenser, they operate the printing enterprise at the corner of Level 1 near the Dining Hall.

Bach (B): Let us address the elephant in the room: you need to do something about that beeping sound!

Printer (P): I always get complaints by the folks at the lobby when someone works with me! And it is not even my fault! It was the card reader that keeps beeping whenever got a card laid on him. I can’t control the reader!

B: You seems to be pretty popular among students. When is your typical busy period?

P: I realize a pattern when I need to get ready for work. It is either very late at night, or roughly every thirty minutes before the hour mark in the day. It is when students usually rush to have their readings or assignments printed. But generally, I feel like I don’t have much business also! Students nowadays use their laptops to do readings, and also submit assignments electronically, unlike the good ol’ days when their seniors needed to submit hard copies.

B: What is a good day for you? Are there any days that are better than others?

P: When I don’t break down perhaps? I mean I have been doing this for years, and sometimes there are problems that I can’t control. You know, sometimes the other guys don’t feed me enough ink, or the paper jams. Sometimes it is not even my fault! The computer never listens properly, and never sends me the work to print! But yeah, there are definitely better days when I don’t break down, especially during the submissions period where many students depend on me to do my job. But to be fair, I could not have done it without the whole team, and especially my wife who shares the burden when I am not feeling well.

B: I talked had a talk with the W-2 and Dryer-2 just now, and they were asking if you know how come students in Tembusu have so many one-dollar coins?

P: I usually see students carrying fistful of smaller coins down to mail-room, and return with the new one-dollar coins. I always thought it was quite a neat magic trick!

B: It is mysterious indeed! Anyway, what motivates you to carry on every day?

P: To actually play a part in students’ good grades. I don’t mean to take credit from them, but whenever I get to read an amazing essay, I really root for the student to get a good result from it. Tembusians really write great essays, and it is a privilege for us to look through them.

B: Let’s go back to the work that you do. I mean, people are definitely aware of you as integral parts of the College. But do you ever feel if you are appreciated as such?

P: I know that folks want me to print in colour (laugh). I would appreciate more if the users bother to ask me for help rather than just complaining about me breaking down. I mean, I have instructions over me in case of paper jams, and it is quite easy to solve! It is okay if I break down, but if it is my wife, it is very painful for both her and myself.

B: On a more personal note, how do you wind down during free time?

P: The computer provides some entertainment.

B: But the last time I checked, there is nothing in the computer!

P: That’s what you think (wink)! And by the way, we also gossip about the files you have on your thumb-drives.

B: Last question, where do you see yourself in the next few years?

P: Well I have a wife now, so I just hope that there will be less work so that we can focus on family-building. And hopefully we can, well, have some kids, and have them take over the business when we retire! You will still need somebody to do the job, right?

B: Right! Thank you so much for the interview!


Photos by Ryan Quek


About the Author

Bach is a second year Arts and Social Science student who is intending to major in Political Science. He likes to explore about politics, religions, and sports, aspiring to be the next John Oliver. He is currently in love with the musical Hamilton and spicy Indomee.