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.