I have spent a lot of my life in laundromats. Basically, my parent’s house was the last place I actually had an in-house washer and dryer, which I lost after their deaths when I was in my 20s. Since then, it’s been a truism that the more basic necessities are taken off the plate, the cheaper the rent gets.
Yesterday morning I walked my roller carrier full of laundry to the laundromat, because you don’t really get the full effect of society’s devaluation of your humanity until you hike down the road with your dirty undies one misstep away from being strewn all over passing cars.
I know I’ve done this most of my life because I just step over the chicken bones in the parking lot (former Publix chicken-wings dinner? Or Santeria ritual? Odds are good either way, everyone knows the fourth upper dryer on the right is cursed and we’re all for sacrificial offerings if it stops that machine from eating our money, ammirite?????). There is also the obligatory “stepping over the laundry detergent spill” and the “stepping over children lying prostrate on the floor and crying for their blankie, which is being washed.”
But mostly because I take the Crazy Laundry People in stride.
There is the woman who waits for one specific dryer out of 20 for…reasons. Reasons of which reason knows nothing. And she will stand next to it, watching your laundry twirl to dryness. The. Whole. Time. The entire place might be empty but if you choose the wrong dryer, prepare to have your pants stared at for a while.
There are the people who use it for babysitting. This is how I discovered that young children and cats are actually interchangeable: they both know when you don’t want them around, and will proceed to get all up in your face with their butts until you give in and let them crawl into your laundry basket. Where are their parents, you ask? Usually ignoring my pleas for help, that’s where.
And the guy, that guy, you know the guy…with hydrogen peroxide. A whole bottle of it. Added to his laundry. You don’t know that guy? Well I do, and as CSI taught me, hydrogen peroxide is a great way to break down blood, so I’m not sure I want to know that guy. I’m not saying anything about that guy, in particular. But we all watch CSI, right? Right. You could just use bleach, dude, no one would be trying to remember your height-to-weight ratio if you did.
Of particular schadenfreude are the people who add half a bottle of detergent to the super-efficient washers that only need, like, a thimble of soap to wash 40# of clothes. Because you know the rinse cycle is a pipe dream, there is not enough rinse cycles in the Western world to properly rinse those clothes. Their entire wardrobe will be made of 25% cotton and 75% alkylbenzenesulfonate surfactant. Seriously, how do they not get skin rashes? Do they think their clothes aren’t clean unless they are itchy? Is this opposite day? I get itchy just watching them pour…and pour…and pour…
Then there is the woman I try to give the benefit of the doubt, who washes literally three large trash bags worth of clothes and then dons rubber gloves to shift them from the washer to the dryer. She does not use those gloves for any other part of the process, not to put them in the washer or to fold them from the dryer. Is this a phobia of washing machine cooties? Why is she even here, then? Lady, this is a building FULL of washing machine cooties! You can’t escape them!
Of course, I’m sure I look crazy to people too. There is something ritualistic about doing laundry, and washing things a certain way and folding clothes just so. I’m one of the magic people who can fold fitted sheets, so I get stared at a lot for that. Next time, I’m going to say some rhythmic non-sense words while I do it, and convince everyone it really is magic!
…that’s normal, right?