On Sunday, I went to the laundromat, and I realized something – the laundromat has been a staple in my life for much longer than I realized.
I remember going to the laundromat as a kid; I also remember not liking it, even though it involved absolutely no work on my end. The place was sort of old, and the TVs only had news channels playing.
As I grew older, my parents moved into homes with washers and dryers (although we did have a clothesline in at least one of my backyards). I learned, and did, my own laundry in middle school.
Once I got to college, the dorms had a laundry room, but it only had two washers and two dryers – I quickly learned that going off campus was probably my best bet. I also heard way too many horror stories about cute guys in the laundry room seeing co-ed underwear or whatever. I wasn’t having it.
There was a place just a few blocks off-campus called “The Soap Opera”, and to this day, that still has to be the best name for a laundromat, ever. It was on the edge of campus, near an area that was a tad rough.
But whatever, I showed up with my quarters, powdered soap, and one of those collapsable hampers full of my dirty clothes. I followed the directions printed on the washing machine: add clothes, add soap, add coins, start.
I waved over the attendant; an older, thin woman with graying hair.
“I don’t know what happened,” I said. “The water just isn’t coming out.”
She opened the lid, looked inside, and let the lid drop with a loud “thud.” Then she slammed her fist onto the lid, and with that, the water started.
“Sometimes you just have to give it that extra somethin’,” she said.
It was a moment I’ll never forget, and I continued washing my clothes there until I found a washer and dryer elsewhere – usually at a sorority sister’s house who was willing to share.
Once I got my own apartment, I enjoyed the luxury of having my own washer and dryer, but when I was looking for apartments, I decided that a washer and dryer was something I’d be willing to give up (on top of other things) in trade for a lower rent payment.
Currently, my apartment has a big closet housing a washer and dryer hookup, but I use it for storage (a filing cabinet, Christmas decor, and a crafting table). I told myself I would simply go to the laundromat for as long as I could stand it, and if I really started to hate it – I could look into renting the appliances or be watchful for a sale.
But, here I am almost two years later, and I still am okay with going to my laundromat, “The Washatopia” (leave it to laundromats for the clever names). The place is clean, it takes a little card so I don’t have to worry about quarters, plus there’s free wifi – and there’s lots of TVs. And yes, they show the news, which is enjoyable 25 years later.
Going to the laundromat makes laundry a task that I simply just DO and it takes around two hours from loading my car, driving there, washing, driving, hanging, and heading home. When I’ve had a washer and dryer at home, it seemed to take foreverrrrrr – and I also don’t have to worry about the appliances racking up my water or electric bills, or anything breaking down.
Plus, there’s always a lot of great people watching to be had at the laundromat. It’s really a win-win, so don’t be shocked if my next novel has a plot at a place like “The Soap Opera”.