Anywho, I’ve been letting clothes pile up for longer than I care to admit. I was trying to do a load at a time in my mother-in-law’s machine, but that meant lugging the clothes upstairs and back downstairs. (Hey, don’t judge me. Those stairs are really steep!) I’ve been so busy with work that I haven’t had time to do any loads for a while. (If he can use the excuse, so can I. That, my friends, it what you call equal rights.)
So, tonight, I decided it was time to visit the Laundromat. You may be asking yourself what possessed me to head to the Laundromat on a Friday night, but don’t ask. It’s me. Just go with it. (And, by the way, my spellcheck keeps capitalizing Laundromat – See? I don’t know why, but it’s not a typo. Apparently, it’s such an important place, it deserves a capital letter.)
Supper was cooking in the crockpot, so I loaded the Suburban with my mounds of dirty laundry and headed to the ‘mat. I gave myself a pep talk on the way. “Al, it’s going to be fine,” I said. Well, actually, I didn’t call myself by name, and even if I did, I’d probably call myself Alison. Myself and I are on a more formal basis than “Al.”
Now, while I’m driving to the Laundromat (L!), let me just clue you in on something here. In case you haven’t figured it out, I led a pretty blessed childhood. I mean, sure, my parents struggled when they were first married and when my sister and I were little, but by the time I can remember, we had money. We didn’t *do* the Laundromat. If the washer broke, my mother either called the repairman or bought a new washer. That’s how we rolled. The only time I ever remember going to the Laundromat was to wash nasty horse blankets because my mother did not want those smelly things in her house. (Which, by the way, may be part of the reason I think of Laundromats as nasty…horse blankets.)
So, for me to go to the Laundromat, by myself none-the-less, is a pretty big deal for me. Judge if you will, but it’s just not something I’ve done in all my 41 years (41! Ugh.). I’ve been there once or twice to wash blankets after camp, but Mr. Everything always went with me. Since he’s a pretty smart fellow, I just relied on him to tell me how the machines worked. In fact, I’m pretty sure I just stood back and let him handle it. I was pampered. Until tonight.
I got to the Laundromat and went in first without my clothes. I figured I’d stake the place out and make sure I was going to be able to figure it out. I had a bag of quarters, but I wasn’t even sure whether the machines took quarters or some kind of magic card Mr. E had told me about. If they took debit cards, I was all set. Otherwise, if I needed dollar bills, I was in trouble. My wallet has been a dollar-bill-free zone since the late 90’s. Luckily, the machines took quarters, and there were plenty of machines available. I went back to get my clothes. All 4 hampers of them. (What? Like you’ve never let laundry pile up? Don’t be a hater.)
I stood in front of a washing machine, looking at it, as though it was going to guide me through the process. There were instructions that were written on about a first grade level. You’d think I’d be able to figure them out. You’d be wrong, but you’d think that. (Just a side note here – I’m terrible with directions. I can’t read and follow instructions to save my life, especially when I’m nervous. The instructions might as well have been in Japanese.)
So, I successfully got the first machine going. I found out later that I washed my dark clothes in warm water, but hey, overall, I was pretty successful. I even figured out where the laundry detergent should go.
The second load did not go as well. I poured the detergent in the top, as instructed. Then, since I was washing sheets, I poured bleach in the top too. As I poured, I heard it sloshing down into the washer and even felt some splash out onto my feet. Then, I saw the sign that said, “Wait to add bleach until ‘Add bleach’ light comes on.” Oops. Stay in school kids, so you can follow directions.
I stood there thinking about what to do now. My blankets were white, so at first, I thought I would just load them first to avoid bleaching out the red sheets. Then, it occurred to me that I had not put my money in the machine yet. If I switched machines, I would only be losing a cup full of detergent and the bleach that I had poured in.
And, I would just like to take a moment to apologize to whoever decides to use the machine I abandoned. I still feel really guilty about leaving the machine. However, if you take the time to read the directions, they say, “Check machine before placing clothing inside.” Hopefully, you can read better than I can.
I got all four loads of laundry going and waited. Really, by the time I navigated my way through loading dirty clothes, pouring detergent and feeding quarters to the machines, the first machine was just about finished. There wasn’t much time to wait.
As the machines finished, I took the wet clothes and loaded them into the monster dryers. These suckers were so big, a family could live in there. (Note to self…remember that if things don’t work out at your mother-in-law’s house.)
I started loading quarters into the machine, but it wasn’t working. I stood there for a minute, attempting to actually READ the directions and realized I was feeding them in the wrong slot.
And, allow me just to take a moment here to say, “You’re welcome” to whoever got an extra 30 minutes of drying time from my stupidity. Maybe that random act (accidental, yet still random) of kindness will make up for the bleach incident. Karma, are we even now??
I went to the Suburban to wait for the dryers to finish. As I sat there, two extremely homeless looking gentlemen walked up and were standing between my car and the Laundromat. They were looking around, nervously, as though they were up to something. One seemed to keep watch while the other one went into the Laundromat. I started to panic because my clothes and laundry baskets were in there with the suspicious man. Then, I realized I hate my clothes anyway and all my laundry baskets are broken from years of abuse, so I had nothing to lose. I had already made up my mind just to let them have whatever they wanted.
I sat there, kicking myself (Okay, that would be impossible – don’t be so literal!) for going to the Laundromat alone on a Friday night. What was I thinking? I was going to be murdered by homeless men, and my clothes were going to be stolen, and it was all because I was too lazy to walk upstairs. (I’m telling you, they are really steep!). The homeless dude outside the building kept looking around, making sure no one was coming. The one inside turned the corner and disappeared out of sight. A few minutes later, he came out, moving very quickly. He had cash in his hand and was moving toward his bike. In a flash, they were gone (okay, it was more of a shuffle and a pedal than a flash, but you get my point).
I sat and pondered what I had just witnessed. Was it a drug deal? Did the guy inside steal something? The only room that was open and unlocked that he could have gone into was the bathroom. There was an office, but it was locked. There wasn’t even anyone else in the Laundromat at that time, so what could he possibly have done?
I waited until the men were out of sight, and then I went back in the Laundromat. As soon as I entered the building, I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, what the guy had done. It involved the bathroom, and it was overpowering the smell of fabric softener.
Luckily, my clothes were dry, or at least, dry enough. I loaded them into my hampers, while holding my breath and breathing through my mouth. I got my stuff and moved to the door as quickly as I could. As I was leaving with my last load, a family entered to start their laundry. They smelled the smell and all looked at me as though I had done it. In my mind, I was saying, “It wasn’t me! I didn’t do it!” The people pleaser in me wanted to be sure they knew that hideous smell had not been created by me. However, the new, reformed “I don’t care what you think” person looked them in the eye, smiled and said, “Have a pleasant night!” I was proud of myself as I got in my car. I had conquered the Laundromat, and I had let others think badly of me while not caring. Yay me! With all this progress, I wonder what tomorrow holds in store. -Al