Thursday, January 14, 2010

Regarding Laundromats


Because our clothes dryer's motor decided to make a dramatic exit the week of Christmas, (Dear Dryer, Nice timing, jerk. Sincerely, Gerb) I have recently become well acquainted with our local laundromats. It had been well over 16 years since I had the opportunity of laundering my family's clothing surrounded by strangers and I wasn't sure of where to go.

The first place I tried was like being in a foreign country right within a couple of miles of home. To summarize, I had children getting into my purse, eating my snacks and rummaging through my baskets while their parents sat nearby giving me threatening looks. When I went out to my car to lock my personal items in the trunk, I returned to find the mother of the previously mentioned children going through my clothes in the washing machines. (I promise you, I am not making this stuff up.) When I tried to ask the kids to stop or their mother to explain what in the world she thought she was doing, I was met with blank stares. The joke was on me... no one there spoke English. Needless to say, I did not return to this location.

My next attempt was in a place equally close to home but in a different direction. This place was definitely an improvement but it had the feel of a cowboy bar in the backwoods somewhere with a distinctive smell of chewing tobacco and some twangy music playing overhead... and me without my iPod. I firmly believe that I endured some sort of torture, having nothing to listen to except for the drone of washers and dryers along with sad songs about beer, trucks and boots. A homeless man wandered in, set his knapsack and bedding beneath a bench in the corner and checked all of the vending machines for forgotten change before locking himself in the bathroom for the remainder of the time I was there. I decided not to return here, either.

Allen suggested I try the place we frequented as college students way-back-when. I was skeptical about the location still being a laundromat but I was happy to give it a shot. As I approached the building I noticed that everything around it had changed but the laundromat was still there. Suffice it to say that this is the place I have returned to every time since. Clean facilities, new machines, wireless internet and a comfortable atmosphere made it worth the extra drive.

There are some things to be said for laundromats in general.

First of all, it is awesome to get 8 loads of laundry done in a two-hour time span. It is also fun to people-watch and enjoy some treats all to myself (except at that first place) as the washloads are running. I'm sure it must have saved us some money on our gas and water bill for the last few weeks as well.

However...

It is no fun to load up the clothing and linens of 11 people and cart it into a self-serve laundry, basket by basket. There is also nothing glamorous about folding that amount of laundry in a short amount of time, keeping track of which dryers hold your items, or trying to hide your unmentionables from the people who surround you.

In the end it all comes down to this:

I'm definitely going to appreciate having a working dryer at home again.

15 comments:

Kristin Garlick said...

Thank you for reminding of my own terrible laundromat moments and how very grateful I am to have a washer and dryer!! :)

cari said...

One time when our dryer was broken, I hung my clothes all around my house. It reminded me of that I Love Lucy episode where she was pretending to be a hillbilly. :) Sometimes I'm tempted to go to a laundromat just to get caught up on my laundry but then I remember how fun the people are there. I hope your dryer situation is fixed soon!

Rebecca said...

Didn't you try Wymount?

Cee Tindall said...

I admire how you are enduring this unpleasant season with strength and dignity!
I have had to use the laundromats here (in Las Vegas) a time or few and I've complained the whole time to anyone who would listen.

Richard & Natalie said...

I have been putting off washing our sleeping bags from the summer's camping trips for this very reason! And the one by our house isn't even that bad. Although, I believe they do play twangy country music... I guess the sleeping bags can stay "airing out" in the garage a little longer.

I hope your dryer situation is remedied soon. If not, and you tire of laundromats the Parke laundry house is always open and totes such amenities as wireless internet, interesting little (and some big) people to be entertained by, ipod dock with speakers, and a friend to visit with who will not eat your treats or look at your unmentionables. Just so you know...

Sorry for the length. :)

Anaise said...

Hmmm, I had to do some laundromat time myself in the fairly recent past, so you have my sympathy.

Wireless internet, huh?

Michelle said...

LOL! I love that the woman was rummaging through your machine, not to mention the homeless man setting up camp. So familier to my own neighborhood.

Gerb said...

Kristin- It's all about perspective, isn't it?

Cari- I'll admit, it has been AWESOME to leave the house with 8+ loads of dirty laundry and return home roughly 2 hours later with clean, folded laundry. Our new dryer should be all ready to go by the weekend. :)

Bec- I could have, I'm sure, but they have signs all over that say FOR RESIDENTS ONLY so I guilted myself out of it.

Cee- Thanks for stopping by! It's nice to have someone listen when you complain, isn't it? Even better if they agree with you...

Natalie- Thank you for such a generous offer. I worry that you would be overwhelmed by the trips it would take from my car to your door to get everything in for sorting. But if you ever want to hang out at a laundromat and get those sleeping bags clean, I know just the one to go to! BTW, you are welcome to leave comments of any length. I love them all!

Anaise- Wireless internet, indeed. Glad you didn't have to spend too much of your time (or money!) at your laundromat.

Michelle- You would've felt right at home! ;)

Lori said...

Oh, Gerb. I think God gives us moments like this just to remind us of how much we have to be grateful for. Beautifully written, and very reminiscent of the times when I've had to lug my big ole comforters to the laundromat because they just didn't FIT in my rinky dink ole washer and dryer. I now have a heavy duty washer and dryer, and use quilts instead of comforters. :)

Gerb said...

Lori- I think that's exactly what the purpose in this trial was. I pray all the time to not take things for granted... I guess this could have been my answer! Today I am loving doing the laundry - definitely not my favorite chore in the past.

Cara said...

Well I hope your dryer is fixed or replaced soon. Growing up as poor as I did, my mom washed our clothes in the bathtub and dryed them all over the house and in the back yard. TIP: Stick magnets on the machines you use and then you can spot them right away!

Gerb said...

Cara- We have our new dryer and it is a beautiful thing. magnets is a good idea... I started using post-it notes.

Sybrina said...

I remember what a chore it was to do two people's laundry when we were newlyweds. I can only imagine the job you had bringing a whole family's worth over each time! Funny you are on this subject, though. Do you know my friend Stephanie Bundrock? For some reason I'm thinking you might...She claimed just the other day that she finally figured out the laundry trick. Her new method: Tell each kid to hand over their worn clothes at the end of each day. She runs them while working out, and by morning each kid's is dry and ready to be put away.

annette said...

Congrats on the new dryer! I wish I would have read this sooner- if there's ever a next time- I only wash laundry Tu/Thdays- so they sit unused 5 days a week and you are welcome to them.

Chelle! said...

um...Gerb...you could have called and visited Michelle's laundromat. The fee would have been homemade cookies...