In my continuing adventures as a soon to be single woman, I present another episode of the Laundromat.
Everyone knows there are certain rules to doing laundry. Read the care labels. Sort the coloreds from the whites. Pre-treat stains. Wash the towels separately. It’s not a complicated job and, under normal circumstances, it isn’t a stressful job.
Laundromats are anything but normal. Try not to dwell on the fact that you now make up part of the population of this colorful institution. Also try not to dwell on the idea that institutions often house crazy people.
When you drive up to the Laundromat of choice and notice there are no parking places, that is a clue to run. If you have limited wardrobe, try to calculate how many clean clothes you have. If you realize you are wearing your only clean clothes, then it’s time to return to your house and rummage through your stash of drugs. Painkillers are the drug of choice in this situation. When you realize your entire collection of drugs consists of Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, some out of date penicillin, cough drops, antacid and a motley assortment of allergy samples and vitamins, go back to the laundry, knowing you did your best to kill the pain.
As you drag your baskets out of the car, remind yourself that suffering only strengthens the person and builds character. Ignore that inner voice, which tells you weak is all right and actually preferable to suffering.
Extended rule number one. Always bring Post It notes, sticky tabs or something similar. It doesn’t matter if you have every phone number you’ve ever dialed memorized, you will forget which washers and dryers are yours. This is especially true because of rule number two, which will make putting your clothes in adjoining machines impossible.
Note: Laundry attendants frown on you writing your initials on the machines with Sharpies. Just bring the stickies.
Extended rule number two. The number of broken washers and dryers are directly proportional to the number of people trying to do laundry and how much you have to do at home. Even though the ratio of working washers to dryers is roughly 5:3 on a good day, all that goes out the window when the tenth level of hell is particularly populated.
Extended rule number three. Laundromats are the tenth level of hell. It’s a fact. There simply is no other explanation for the bizarre situations and people. Remember, you are now one of those people. Yeah, I thought that would cheer you right up.
Extended rule number four. Try not to look too, well, whatever that emotion was when the 450 pound guy winked at you and flashed his most charming toothless grin at you, was. He’s a person too, with thoughts and feelings and needs. Just stay on the other side of the laundry so he isn’t feeling in your direction.
Extended rule number five. Even though the laundry is so noisy you could mask the take off of a 747 in there, there are things you should keep in mind. As much as you hate to use a public restroom because you don’t like people hearing you pee and the door to the restroom is about three inches too short, stop and think. No one will hear you, but the question remains, do you really want to use that restroom.
Note: Leave the coffee thermos at home next time.
Extended rule number six. Stop staring at the two guys going through something that looks like a mating ritual for some exotic bird. That’s a secret handshake to a club you don’t want to belong to. It’s great that you learned the secret password, “Wassup, bro,” but leave it at that. Don’t try to study the secret handshake too. You never were one of the cool kids in the secret clubs, so don’t get interested now.
Extended rule number seven. Don’t laugh at the middle-aged woman with enough facial piercings to set off a metal detector at twenty paces. Don’t even laugh when you realize she is wearing flannel pajamas. Not even at her fuzzy slippers. Nope, can’t even laugh when her teen-aged daughter comes in, wearing fleece, one piece footie pajamas with little pink kitties on them. They are probably the new tag-team mother and daughter wrestlers everyone is talking about and will clean your clock when you laugh.
Extended rule number eight. The washing cycle takes twenty-five minutes. Twenty of those minutes are in the final spin cycle. Even though you now see one open dryer, resist the temptation to reach in the washer and grab your clothes. Remember, this is the tenth level of hell. Not only will the washer tear your arm off, but it will also suck you into the maw and wrap your freshly cut hair around the agitator, ruining the perfect cut and a lovely outing at the Laundromat.
Extended rule number nine. Killing the woman who just took your dryer as you dashed through the mob with your little laundry cart is not only impolite, but it is also illegal.
Extended rule number ten. Killing the screaming kid next to you is also illegal, even if you think you can get away with a justifiable homicide plea. Refrain from telling the mother, “If you’d whip that kid at home he wouldn’t act like that in public.”
Extended rule number eleven. It won’t do a bit of good to try to talk to the little critter, who is throwing the temper tantrum at your feet. Animals don’t understand English. A gentle nudge with the foot to move him out of the way should show you need him to move. Booting him across the laundry is more than a gentle nudge.
Extended rule number twelve. No, you can’t start throwing your underwear away after one use. If you could afford to do that, you would have your own washer and dryer. Just lower your eyes, fold your undies quickly and try not to think about the strange men who always seem to be watching. Don’t try to figure out why your bras always twist so badly you have to unwind them nineteen times. It’s the tenth level of hell.