Africa, Expat Life

Introducing Africa’s Iron Rule

Here in Africa we have an Iron Rule. It’s nothing to do with government control or military states. It’s to do with the state of electrical appliances, irons in particular.

The Iron Rule is as follows:

In Africa, 1 Iron will last 1 year.  

Then it will explode, fuse the house/entire neighbourhood or occasionally, without fanfare or warning, silently go to the great laundry room in the sky.

There are various theories on why this is so.

  1. Power Surges

Our power supply is on and off as much as Ross and Rachel in Friends. This isn’t good for anything that’s plugged in, but irons seem to be particularly susceptible.

  1. Poor Quality

Pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap. In today’s throwaway society where many things aren’t built to last, it could well be that all irons everywhere in the world are poor quality meant to be replaced or upgraded after a short time.

Ironing is something that I tend to avoid at all costs when in my home country (being an advocate of the tumble-dry, shake and fold method), making it difficult for me to test whether the poor quality aspect is just in Africa or everywhere.  So if you’re not in Africa, but still get through irons, let me know, even though this would obviously undermine the Iron Rule as I have come to know it.

  1. Overwork

If you have somebody who washes and irons for you while on an expat assignment, you might find that anything not nailed down is vigourously scooped up and washed by your overly efficient house-help. Even if it’s already clean.

In Johannesburg we layer our clothing in winter and woe betide a clean scarf or sweater temporarily removed during the hottest part of the day, if you don’t hide it or specifically ask for it NOT to be washed, it probably will be washed.  More washing = more ironing and therefore more strain on your already fragile iron.

We are almost 2 years into this African assignment and we just bought our third iron. Although this is not absolute iron clad proof (and I just spotted this unintentional pun!), I strongly believe that the Iron Rule holds pretty much true. How about you? What’s your version of Iron Rule wherever you are?

two irons one burnt out
Left: Recently Departed Right: The clock is ticking.

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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.