Monday, February 24, 2014

A Post a Day #1. Laundromat Culture

Jen Fulweiler, Friend of Bloggers, is again hosting her Post-a-Day for a week. So you will get the best of my scattershot type posts, of which this may be the scatter-shottiest.

We have been without a dryer now for about a year, so twice a week, I haul fifty pounds of wet laundry to the laundromat, and bring back the same, only greatly reduced in weight. It is cheaper than buying a dryer, at least in dollars. The area we live in has narrow homes with even narrower basement doors, so the only dryer (singular) we can get is one that can be largely assembled once in the basement. Which adds $$$ to the whole deal.

Anyways, I get my exercise.

The laundromat, I find, has it's own culture.  Everyone has their own system of doing things. Some bring in gigantic bags to dump on the floor in front of a washer and then meticulously load in one piece at a time. After they are washed, they put it all in a rolling cart, wheel it over to the dryers, and again, meticulously shake out each piece before tossing it in.

There are single men, who also have their own ways, some seem pretty adept. Except the occasional guy that like to wash and dry his sneakers, which continually kick open the doors of the dryers, spilling everything out. These guys usually have gone to McDonalds or something while this occurs. Some of us will pick up the stuff and restart the dryer, but only until about the third time, in which we will then leave the shoe out, sitting artfully in some prominent place for him to find.

One very busy Sunday, a day which I usually try to avoid, I went there to find a virtual flood from a malfunctioned washer. I had to roll up the bottoms of my pants and dodge the multitudes, trying not to have to scatter my clothes between too many areas so I wouldn't forget where some were*. I finally managed to get most of them loaded in an area near the back corner. I put my baskets on one side of a large double table nearby. I went to get change, and as I returned, a rather formidable looking woman asked if those were my baskets. I confirmed that they were, and she crisply informed me that she used both sides of the table, indicating I was to remove my baskets. Understand, the place was a zoo, but something about the way she commanded me to move made me not want to have any confrontation. So I found a spot and managed, but it did involve trundling my clothes all over the place, through the puddles and around the running, sliding children. I have since renewed my resolve to avoid weekends there if at all possible.

* I once left an entire dryer full of clothes behind. At home, we discovered it one missing item at a time. "Mom, where are my grey jeans?" "Mom, have you seen my purple shirt?"And so on. Until it dawned on me. By the time we got over there to look, there was a moldy mountain in one corner of the laundromat, piled in several carts. Many people had left things in washers that never got dried, and those, mixed with the rest of the left-behinds, became a mildewed, stinky pile that I was not excited to go near, much less touch. I tried sending Malaika over to see if she saw any of our things while I loaded dryers, but she wasn't buying it. So I went over, not too close, and tried to search with my long range x-ray vision, for any of our clothes. Lo and behold, I did see a few things, and gingerly Jenga-d them out, but nobody was game to really dig in, so we decided nothing that was missing was really all that important.

I do count my dryers now.

Most days are not so very busy there, and most people are not hell bent on having everything about their laundry experience tailored exactly to their taste. The noise is usually just a quiet cacophony of the washers, dryers and TVs. It smells of bleach, fabric softener and people's fast food. I really don't mind going there, or being there. I know most of the women that work there, and the repairman.  I don't mind the kids dashing around, it reminds me of the days I used to go with my small children. 

I am told that warm weather may return someday**, and then I will begin hanging everything outside again and the laundromat days will recede until next fall.

**My theory is that the White Witch has returned and needs to be dethroned. 

***Photos are my actual-factual laundromat. Twenty-four hour, baby! ( I would not be caught dead there in the wee hours). 

So what's the point, you may ask? I don't really know, I may answer. Just a slice of my life. A twice a week slice. My observation is that it is not a bad thing to go and do this chore alongside people having their slices of life in this place. I have always found a certain pleasure and comfort in doing tasks like this. It adds a certain rhythm and comfort.

See you tomorrow for more thrills! Hang on to your hats!


  1. My mother has never used a dryer in her life. She puts her clothes out on a line in the back, and in the winter hangs them in the kitchen.

    1. I have done that too. Right now the sheer volume I have to turn over weekly dictates. I am looking forward to the summer way, though. :)

  2. I thought this was definitely interesting! A lot of middle class folks never use a laundromat. In honesty, I haven't, because our apartment building has a general laundry room.

    1. It's rarely really anybody's first choice, but, for an introvert like me, a good exercise in being around the public and mostly not hating it. :)

    2. Oh, and welcome, Caroline! :)