My schedule this last week has been a little off. My washer decided to start playing dead about three weeks ago, and so far I have gone through two repairman visits only to determine the problem is most likely something to do with the water and the pipes in the laundry room. This means I am now waiting on a new repairman to come and fix everything. My landlord was kind enough to stop by and check on me. That is kind of her thing. She made certain to have our phone number in case she needs anything, but she never calls, she just stops by. (There is almost a complete guarantee that she will arrive on my doorstep if I am in my scraggiest sweats with a messy house.) This policy of stopping by announced extends to repairmen she sends over. There is never any warning, just a knock on the door and the expectation that I can stay while they do their business. The final effect of this is I have no idea when this plumber will arrive or how long I will be without a washer.
In the mean time, I get to spend some quality time at the Laundromat. There aren’t very many in the area I live, but I choose to drive twice as far to find one that costs a third of the price and has a couple of American stores nearby. (I know the American stores thing may be weird, but if you live in a country away from your native land for any period of time, there are certain things you miss and will go out of your way to find again.) This forty-five minute drive, combined with the minimum 90 minutes of washing clothes means I am looking at 4-5 hours of my day dealing with laundry instead of my normal routine of switching loads around as I do other, more entertaining things. There can be some advantages, however overall I am not a fan of spending my time airing my dirty laundry in public.
Here are five things from my recent (and as yet continuing) time at the Laundromat.
1. Quiet Time
When I plan my time at the Laundromat, I always make sure to bring something to do. I will have some time in between putting the first load in the washer to taking the last load out of the dryer. Depending on how much I have and how many people are there, that time can be anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours. This time must be spent doing something. I always bring a book, sometimes I bring homework, occasionally I will bring a notebook for story notes. I never bring my laptop, as I know I will not get any actual writing done, no matter how much I need to get through. I always have the good intentions to use the things I bring, however I rarely do. Mostly this is due to the interesting people.
2. Interesting People
It never seems to fail me. I want to ignore everyone else at the Laundromat and read my book, but there is always one person who just wants to talk. I can’t help it. My mother taught me to be polite, which occasionally means having conversations with people when I would rather put my headphones in and ignore them. Sometimes the people are nice and fun. Sometimes they are looking for help and information in an area that is new for them. Sometimes they are just plain rude and I curse my mother for teaching me to be the better person and not tell them exactly where they can stick their opinions. Sometimes it takes an extreme amount of self control to resist the impulse to start a cat fight in the Laundromat. I’m pretty sure I was close to biting a piece of my tongue off when another mother began her tirade on public education and how she is just as good of a teacher for her children because you can completely base a homeschool curriculum on Pintrest. (This is a sore spot. My mother is a teacher, and I am currently working on my Masters of Education. I like Pintrest. I think teachers both post and use some great stuff on Pintrest. I do not think looking at Pintrest and saying “Hey that’s cool!” is the same as planning age appropriate learning objectives. Indicating it is the exact same thing is disrespectful to all of the teachers who work so hard to plan and carryout lesson plans all year.)
3. Tighty Whiteys
We all wear underwear. Well, most of us anyway. It’s not a secret, and it is not shameful. However, it is incredibly awkward to have a random guy talking to you while he is folding his stained tighty whiteys. Where do you look? I can’t look at the underwear, because then I am staring at his underwear. I can’t look at my own underwear, because then he might start looking there too. I can’t make eye contact, because then I am staring into his eyes as he plays with his underwear. Please. Either stuff your underwear in the bottom of your basket for later, or pause the conversation.
4. Washer Hogs
Some places have very strict policies about how many washers you can use at a time, or how you should deal with items that are left behind. Our last base maintained a two washer at a time policy. You could break the policy if things weren’t busy, but you ran the risk of being kicked out if business picked up and you were using too many washers. Here, there does not seem to be any hard and fast rule, so I try to use common sense and manners. If no one is there, I use no more than half the washers at a time (it’s a small place, so it’s not that many.) This means if someone else comes in, they can get started also. It might mean I take a little longer to run a second batch of loads, but I feel like a better person. Others do not seem to have that belief and will boldly say they don’t care, they got there first. It makes me feel like the kid who was a little to slow to the swing set all over again; I’m watching, waiting for a turn, knowing I might be there for a while. Please people, if you are planning on using every washer, at least go early in the morning, or late at night. Don’t go during the peak business hours of the day.
5. Forgotten Socks
I kind of love the forgotten items at the Laundromat, mostly because they are never mine. Sometimes it is the sad and lonely sock, sitting on the washer, wondering if anyone will ever come back. Other times, it is a full load of laundry, sitting in a washer, unclaimed by it’s owner. Last week it was a large blue and brown comforter, sitting in a basket. It is very rare to solve the mystery of the lost laundry, but sometimes you find out to whom it belongs. I was fortunate enough to see the owner of said blanket come and claim it last week, and let me tell you, I was excited to know the truth. Someone who worked next door had been washing their bedding while they worked, and had had a family emergency forcing them to abandon their items. Two days later (when I was there) they came back to claim it. It was such a minor thing, but I felt like Sherlock Holmes solving a murder. It made my boring, laundry washing day.