Due to my dryer crapping out on me the other day I had to go to the laundromat. I have blogging material for the next month just on this one trip.
I went to the only laundromat that I knew of, which is located in the ‘hood. I remember when there was one in each neighborhood but I guess they have gone the way of the corner drug store, neighborhood schools and service stations where they not only pump your gas (I’m not that old) but also know how to fix your car and don’t expect your first born as payment.
My laundromat is in a sparkling white building with bright blue little suds all over it. The window has “Free WiFi” painted on it. I actually thought going to the laundromat would be fun and relaxing. I imagined myself blogging away with only the white noise of the machines humming to distract me. How wrong I was.
I loaded up all the clothes and even remembered to bring soap. I thought I was doing well. I found a place to park but the lot was a bit full which gave me pause but not enough to prevent me from hauling my basket into the place.
Upon entering the establishment I was surprised to learn that my high school Spanish was still located in my brain. Why there were signs reminding the customers not to let their children play in the machines was a mystery to me since there was no one of Spanish or Mexican or even Portuguese decent on the premises. Maybe the owner was.
After searching for at least two machines close together I put my basket down and started sorting darks and whites and pinks (I have a five year old daughter, remember). I read the directions which were extremely confusing since I don’t soak anything, which might explain why I really only have one color of clothing, gray, but I am getting off track. I had emptied my coin jar into my pockets before I left so I had about $6 worth of quarters. I knew I would need more and stopped at the ATM before I arrived. I started two machines, loaded the last one with the whites and went in search of a change machine. Since a load was $3 I changed a $20 for quarters. Drying always costs more.
As I was loading the final load my phone started ringing. I couldn’t hear that it had been ringing since I arrived over the wailing of babies, shouting mothers and the groaning of the fathers. My son was calling to ask me when I was going to be home. Since the wash part of the process only took twenty minutes I didn’t think the drying time would be a lot longer but I told him 45 minutes just in case.
Once all the clothes were spinning in suds I decided to check out the dryers and see if there were any available. Not a one was not filled. Some were not spinning but all were filled. This could be a problem. I looked around and noticed that there were probably four times as many washing machines as there were dryers. I figured I needed to stake out my claim quickly so I stood by a bank of dryers that were not spinning assuming the owner would come along and remove their clothes as mine were finishing up.
My wash ended and I loaded up the wet clothes into the basket and dragged them over to the dryers. No on had emptied their clothing. occassionally someone would walk by a machine and start it up again and walk away. There seemed to be a lot of this going on. No one appeared to be adding additional coins to the machines. I noticed a woman with a phone stuck in her ear taking her clothing out of a machine. I grabbed my basket and headed over to her and asked if she was finished.
“NO, I AM NOT!” She shouted at me with a head wagging.
“I’m sorry” I said as I slunk back to my postion by the folding table.
I waited, and waited and waited as no one removed their clothing from the dryer. They all kept pushing the ‘start’ button and walking away as their children followed behind.
At least four more people approached the woman I had approached and she was even more firm with them as she had been with me. I decided to stick close to her. As another woman was hovering near her as she reached to pull out another load she looked at her, cocked her head and said:
“THIS WOMAN HAS BEEN HER WAITING PATIENTLY, SHE GETS MY MACHINE. NOW GET AWAY FROM ME!” She was referring to me, her new best friend.
“Girl, you gotta speak up for yourself here” She told me.
If I want to get shot I do. No I’m letting the loud scary woman with an attitude take care me thank you very much.
Eventually we got to talking. Turns out Mondays are free dryer days at this laundromat. If I don’t get my dryer fixed by next week I have decided that I will go on a day where I have to pay to dry my clothes. It also turns out that this woman worked in a call center. I didn’t ask which one but I bet she is a bill collector and I bet she is a damn good one.
Here is what I want to know. Why do people make the trip to the laundromat a family event? There were families everywhere. Mom, the hen pecked dad and screaming kids everywhere. And from the amount of children these people had I suspect they were old time Catholics. The kids, most of them just barely able to walk, were not helping with the clothing, they were just one more thing to worry about in this place. The dads weren’t doing anything resembling chasing after the wayward children they were just getting yelled at by their pregnant wives. Children were climbing in and out of the machines, on top of the folding tables, they were like rats coming out of the sewers when it rains too heavily. I like kids, I have a couple myself, but there is no way I would drag them to the laundromat with me.
I returned home three hours later. And hour after that I started getting the first symptoms of a cold. Needless to say I never took my laptop out of the car. I never sat down the whole time I was there. I do not want to go back.
Last night I was talking to a friend on the phone who lives in my neighborhood. I mentioned my trip to the laundromat and he asked why I didn’t go to the one that is two blocks from my house. The one that is always empty and probably in need of a few patrons. I didn’t even know it was there. Duh.
At least you know that other one is there for next time.
I hated going to the laundromat. There’s never a comfortable chair and there’s too many kids. You’re right–it shouldn’t be a family affair.
Having to use a laundromat was always one of my least favorite things to do. But it does beat washing clothes by hand like I had to do for a while when I lived in India. I was sooo happy when I got a washing machine.
Wishing you a happy new year
I live in an apartment so I have to share a laundry room with the rest of the tenants and I hate it! But, after reading about your laundromat experience I’m a bit more thankful for my laundry room here!
Do you mind if I put your link on my blogroll?
Have a great New Year’s!
Well that’s a first.
Life is all about learning stuff.
Okay, you must be my long lost never met you best friend. You crack me up and your life sounds like you have been watching my life for years. I was a single mom for a long time, had a leaky basement, broken washer and dryer, dogs, cats, kids, cold house, pain in the ass ex…you name it! It makes us the hilarious people we are today. That,and a little prozac! I am bookmarking you in my favorites!
Wowww. Note to self. Avoid laundromats like the plague! (Incidentally, the only one I’ve ever been to was IN Mexico, so ALL the signs were in Spanish, lol)
I haven’t been in a laundromat in years, but that ole feeling came back when I read your post. I remember that my clothes were never completely dry. Now watch, I’ve jinxed myself…my dryer’s going to break!
Yeah, I’m there right now [ploumbing problems from the washer to the drain tub]. If there were an 8th ring of Hell, it would be nothing but laundromats, with no change machines
Laundromat’s are only for single people. After watching all those screaming brats running around acting like idiots and seeing all the dirty laundry those kids produce, who would want kids? I say it should be required in school to take Laundromat 101. Happy New Year.
I don’t have a lot to laugh about in my life at the moment, even the customary New Year optimism is escaping me.
However, your laundromat rant got me going. The last time I had to use one of these was when I was on holiday in the USA in 2005. I was on a group holiday with friends from the Lotus 7 club and we shipped our crazy little cars over to Houston and drove a wiggly route to San Francisco in the next 23 days.
The girls on the trip were delighted to find that most of the motels had laundromats but we never had a lot of time or enough machines as we were mostly only in one place for two nights.
You have to be more than a little brave to throw your “smalls” (and your partners) in with someone else’s but we did, to save time and money and only occasionally ended up with someone else’s garments.
We were all travelling very light because of the size of our cars (see mine on my site).
I like to dry washing outside in the garden – helps beat the ‘grays’ as well as being more environmentally friendly than a dryer.
Fortunately, in my part of the UK, we rarely get more than a few days of such bad weather I can’t do this.
You are going to be my first new blog to follow in 2009 – Happy New Year!
Oh, man. I haven’t been to a laundromat since college, and that one had the advantage of being across the street from a guy I was stalking.
Free Dryer Monday? It sounded like people were just using that as an excuse to hang out at the laundromat all day. WHY, GOD, WHY?
JD at I Do Things
Ha! That SO sounds like me… from cringing in the corner to not finding the close one near home. When I used the laundromat years ago (again like you when my washer broke) I hated it too. It took all day and I totally felt out of place there. Ours even had a sandwich counter; but I don’t think I’d ever eat there.
Oh, that is why I pray to the washer and dryer gods! Laundromats scare the heck out of me – it’s like a war zone with children – and you have to fight for your rights. SCARY.
Kim, I went to the other one today and it was much better. It was cheaper too. No one was there except one other woman and some guy who didn’t really understand how to fold clothing.
Lea, most definitely beats washing by hand and after the last experience I actually considered it. Of course my washing machine still works.
Jane Doe, Link away!
Atif, I’m not sure what’s a first but you are right it is all about learning, and eating chocolate.
Annie, I haven’t tried the prozac yet, I like a good cabernet but willing to try. I’d rather just give the prozac to the ex and that would solve most of my problems.
Angi, I’ve been to grocery stores in Mexico but never laundromats. I hope their signs are in Spanish however those guys speak English too (unlike us who can’t speak but one language).
Earthtoholly, I hope you didn’t jinx it but I thought the same thing when I read your comment. Why don’t the clothes get dry? They smell funny too.
MK What are the 1-7th rings of hell like?
Ettarose I think you might be onto something. I want to know why they don’t have laundromats with exercise equipment. I’d work out while waiting for my clothes to get clean.
Jenny Fletcher, it would have been much better if it had conked out in the summer. Of course if it had I would have ignored the problem and then when winter rolled around I would be bitching about not having a dryer.
JD, I don’t know. There was no one worth stalking at this laundromat. But what a great place to meet someone. You could learn so much about them by the way they did their clothes and what kind of underwear they wear.
Maureen, I felt like putting a sign on my back saying “I really have my own machines but they broke” but that seemed sort of snobbish to me. I did feel the need to explain however and did to anyone who would listen.
Mrs. C. That’s probably why they broke in the first place I didn’t pray to the right god or about the right machine. I was concentrating on my dishwasher.
Oh man, you are definitely a pally now! I’m cracking up because I’ve been there! What is the deal?! I’m thinking laundromats are THE place to write a novel–think of the characters! Second only to the Walmart. I keep threatening to sit in the middle of the Walmart, preferable near the pharmacist, and people watch. I would LOVE to bring the laptop and blog from there if possible. Now, if I can only figure out how to take pictures without getting tossed out! Talk about characters! AND bringing the whole darned families. Sheesh.
Man-o-man, why is the laundramat always in “da hood”? There are times I have to go to use their oversized washers/dryers and I put it off just as long as I can. I’m fearful when jockeying for my position line and vieing for a roller-cart. And, the screaming kids, you might as well just shoot me.
A laundromat saved my life… I was about 17 or 18 with my gf at the time – we’d gone to a party with some friends in the outer extremities of some god forsaken suburbia – every house was the same – every street identical. It was the midst of winter – it was freezing – the steam coming off the dancing throng literally froze as it hit the windows. The “hosts” who were another bunch of kids who’s parents had foolishly stepped out for the evening had left them to go wild and they did, they argued and started to smash all the glasses, we ran for our lives and lost our lift home. We walked with little money and no phones. We were on the verge of sinking into hypothermia when I spotted a laundromat, I tried the door and obviously a dozy manager had left it unlocked. They’d even left the snack machine door open. We found some blankets, ate candy all night and when the morning came we saw a bus stop outside and made it back without a scratch. I’d like to thank who ever owned that laundromat for being so careless – they are an unsung hero/heroine of our times :p