Culture Shock 12: Confused American Expat Throws Socks in German Toilet

Socks in a German toilet
“AWWWWWWWWWWwwww…”

Before I even get started on this one, I need to ask — is it a German thing to keep the laundry basket in the bathroom? My German wife put it there when she set our apartment up, so maybe it’s just a small apartment thing (or maybe it’s a wife-with-poor-spatial-awareness thing). In any case, I am accustomed to the laundry basket being kept in the bedroom — not the bathroom — because very few things have any business being in the same room where I make pickles.

Okay, so on the morning of Tuesday, April 30, 2013, I accidentally tossed my dirty socks into our toilet here in Hannover, Germany. I had just returned to our apartment after walking around the Maschsee (not jogging, but walking, because my pollen allergies were going nuts and I felt like hell… plus I’m a huge pussy), and I stepped into the bathroom to undress and take a shower.

Normally, I start things off by placing a clean pair of boxer briefs and a towel on top of the toilet lid because it’s right next to the shower and can be reached when I emerge, sexy and steaming, from the stall. I then remove my running pants and set them on top of our laundry basket with my right hand while simultaneously using my left to strip off my socks and undies. I then hold the lid of the basket open with my right hand and place the socks and underwear inside with my left.

Wicker laundry basket / hamper
THIS is the right hole. Not the other hole. The other hole is bad.

On that Tuesday morning, however, I forgot to place a clean pair of boxer briefs on top of the toilet. I was completely naked except for my running socks, so I walked into the bedroom — wiener proudly flopping about — and grabbed a fresh pair of undies. I walked back into the bathroom, put the boxers on top of the toilet with my right hand, peeled off both socks with my left and threw them straight into the toilet.

Normally, the laundry basket makes a nice bump sound when its wicker lid closes, so you can imagine how I froze in place when I heard the sharp clack of the plastic toilet lid.

Something has gone awry, I thought to myself, standing up straight, eyes opening wide. My God, soldier… what have you done.

I opened the lid of the toilet and, sure enough, my socks were in there. Like, all the way in the hole, soaking up the water. They were drowning in those sullied waters, where a thousand grumpies had been pumped.

After I’d finally accepted the reality of what I’d done, I grabbed my iPhone and took a picture to show my wife. (This is what I normally do when faced with the results of my own clownshit stupidity.) Then I stuck my hand in the bowl and, pinching my socks between my thumb and index finger like a little girl picking up a stick with dog poop on it, lifted them out of the toilet. Of course, I still had my iPhone in my other hand and the socks were dripping filthy peniswater all over the place, so I panicked and flung them into the shower stall.

Socks in the shower
Pictured: poor impulse control.

I stood there for a moment, thinking, Private, you have failed to defuse the situation. Seeing no reasonable alternative, I snapped another picture, set my phone down and stepped into the stall.

“Okay, socks; you don’t like me and I don’t like you, but we’re about to take a very sanitizing, very molten-hot shower together. Don’t talk to me. Don’t even look at me. And if you decide to get cute and brush up against my ankle while my eyes are closed, I will find your children in the laundry basked, beat them with a meat tenderizer and set them on fire.”

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103 thoughts

  1. Peniswater! Ha!
    Thanks for the much needed laugh today. Brilliantly written!
    I’ve never nearly flushed my socks before, but I have eaten haggis on purpose, which I NEVER would have done if it weren’t for my hot Scottish husband. :)

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  2. You were in shock, weren’t you? Growing up, we always had the laundry hamper in the bathroom, but now I keep it in my closet in the bedroom. I really don’t like it there either. The laundry room isn’t big enough….this is where I’d rather keep the dirties. I hate getting stuff out the peniswater toilet. Haha.

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  3. It’s not just a German thing. We put our laundry basket wherever there’s room and convenient. Usually in the bedroom but now that we live in Belgium where our bedroom’s the size of a bed (compared to the basketball court we called a bedroom in South Africa) the laundry now lives in the bathroom – straight into the washing machine which serves as our laundry basket! One day we’ll have a laundry basket in our bedroom again.

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  4. Despite the fact that your threw your socks into the toilet, what made me laugh most about this post was the fact that you thought to document it immediately with a picture and then send that picture on. Because that’s exactly what I would have done…Just wait until you have to try to fish small Lego mini-figures out of there. A stick doesn’t work…

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  5. Alright, I hope you can now see that those weird German Flachspüler put-your-poop-on-a-ledge toilets do have advantages. Not many but they do.

    PS: Washbasket in bathroom or bedroom, depending on where there is more space. The same goes for the scale, the hairbrush and assorted other goodies.

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      1. Yeah – they stopped making them that way around 1990. They even did the shelf thing in the DDR where they were, frankly, not nearly as anally retentive.

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  6. You are such a trip!

    No, it’s not just a German thing The Dutch keep the laundry hamper in the bathroom too, but then again, we live really close to the border…

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  7. I’ve always had a laundry basket in the bathroom, even in America!

    I wouldn’t have that problem here though, in old Belgian apartments like ours the toilette and bathroom (aka the shower and sink with hot water) are separate.

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      1. I think it’s an old French/Belgian thing. The building my apartment is in is 100 years old, I don’t really know others to compare it too. I have been in a more recently built apartment building in France where the toilette was separate and didn’t have a sink. You had to go into the washroom that was next to it to wash your hands.

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  8. In Australia, if the bathroom is big and has the bathtub and toilet, they might keep the washing basket in there for neatness. But sometimes they leave it in the hallway.
    At least you didn’t drop our phone in there like Moss in IT crowd.

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  9. ……….. and WHO dealt with the socks in the end, Superman? I tried to work out where the laudry basket is in my house, and realised that I gave up on baskets years ago….. My kids throw their stuff on the floor then bring it downstairs to be washed. *FAIL* Nothing in the loo so far, though :-)

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  10. So funny. We used to keep ours in the bathroom too when we lived in an apartment. My chaotic wife usually tossed her house keys in the laundry basket as the first thing she did when coming home was go to the bathroom.

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  11. Funny post…and situation? I’d never use those socks again!
    Plus, I didn’t know people did NOT put the laundry basket in the bathroom…it’s common in Spain too! You’ll never go to bed without learning something new about the world :)

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      1. Südstadt, but not to the Maschsee-side of the Hildesheimer Straße .. right around the corner, as I said … Hannover is small, don’t you agree, just the size of Oklahoma city. I used to make that comparison, when telling people what kind of city I live in – size-wise. We have better weather though … (yes, that one IS evil, but biting humour is German humour)

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      2. Hm – well, I expected that much from american math teaching victims …
        Portland, Oregon:
        583.776 (Stand: 2010) inhabitants after last census
        Hannover Germany –
        (tada)
        525.875 (31. Dez. 2011) inhabitants – and the carp in the Maschsee were not counted in. Cannot vouch for the ants in the Eilenriede though.;)

        warning:
        you should not use a microsoft product to calculate that …

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      3. That census from Hannover did not count the Region Hannover in, too, just the city … If you counted Neustadt, Langenhagen, Laatzen, Lehrte, Seelze, etc. there would be more Hannoverians too. Just saying.

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  12. It’s not a German thing! It’s European, I guess. I have always had and seen laundry baskets in the bathroom. There is where we old-Continentals take our clothes off, before stepping into the bath/shower. Does it make any sense? Do I have to assume that in America you take clothes off in the bedroom, then walk naked till the bath? That’s highly unpractical:-D

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      1. i had to unfollow this and the “Hochzeit”-Post just now. i received 100+ updates and that was probably the reason my phone keeps freezing… is there an option to receive updates just once a day?

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  13. Too funny, and familiar I found a sock in our toilet once, we don’t have a laundry basket in there, and I was afraid of what he (my husband)
    was holding down to ask why it was there. I just let him deal with it. :)

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  14. I don’t know if the laundry basket in the bathroom is a German thing. I can’t recall that I’ve seen that too often. However, I put my husband’s laundry basket in the office (because he uses the closet in our office, since I’m using up the one in our bedroom), thinking that it was a logical place to put it, as he would normally get dressed and undressed near where his clean clothes are kept.

    Nope! When he goes to take a shower, he undressed in the bathroom and puts his dirty clothes in the sink. After reading your post, I’m wondering if he does that because he feels like there should be a laundry basket there. I say over and over again, “Why don’t you undress in THERE and put your dirty clothes in the HAMPER?!” And he just shrugs and says he doesn’t know and keeps leaving his dirty clothes in the sink (which I then have to remove).

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  15. To answer your question yes it is. :) Dirty laundry in the bed room? Ew! ;)
    I guess it’s a typical “apartment thing”. We moved into a house last year and I keep the laundry downstairs in the basement ever since. (used to have the basket in the bath room)

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  16. I have to share this story with someone who will appreciate the confusion.

    So, I’m talking, in English, with my Croatian-German gf yesterday about this film called “The Reader” that she has seen. She explains the plot and says:

    “But there is one little important detail about the main character.”
    “Okay.”
    “She is an alphabet.”
    [10 seconds of silence…]
    Me: “I don’t get it.”
    [She panics]
    “Oh no! She can’t read or write. Did I say it wrong??”
    “You mean she’s illiterate…?”
    “Oh god. Yes. What did I say?”
    “…an alphabet…?”

    So, the German word for illiterate is “analphabet”. We both cracked up, and I told her I have to make this story public! :-D

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    1. Oh that is solid gold! Thank you for sharing! Denglish is the BEST.

      I also watched that movie with my German wife. Of course, we had to pause it every 5 minutes so she could lecture me on German history, but still. We made it through. :)

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  17. Hilarious! I´ve done the same thing many times (and my husband and kids too!) Keeping the laundry basket in the bathroom is a Swedish thing as well…

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  18. Your blog contains peniswater, congratulations! I’m not sure why your wife put you through this ordeal to begin with, but it may be an optional German trait. My German host family had their laundry basket in their bathroom, too. I though it was equally absurd…unhygienic with little kids. My bf keeps his in the bedroom, and I’ve seen others do this as well, which makes me think it’s a preference. Good luck with future toilet-sock encounters.

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  19. Hilarious. I had a house where the washer and dryer were in the bathroom and we kept the laundry basket in there as well and I live in America. Although, I’m of German descent…Maybe that’s why I did it. LOL Anyway, I love your humor and definitely want to see more posts.

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  20. Haha, I’m pretty sure I once did the same thing when I was little. Laundry hamper used to be right next to the toilet in the apartment I lived in as a kid. Although that changed when my family moved. In my own apartment(s), I never kept it in the bathroom, but in the bedroom. (And I’m a German woman.)

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  21. We always had the laundry basket where the washer and dryer was – in the bathroom in most cases. Never seen or had a walking closet in Germany where I would put it instead. I would not just want in the bedroom. LG Anja

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  22. *grin* – Just one question: This is something I could have done… uhm… are you sure we aren’t related – somehow? LOOOOL
    Hilarious!!

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  23. Hahaha, great story. Up til this moment I never considered that the laundry basket could be outside the bathroom. I will have to ask my hubby about this ;-)

    Like

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