a few words on The Laundromat

laundry day is, possibly, my least favorite day.

it all starts in your bedroom. as the weeks go by, you watch, with horror, at the obscene amount of clothing piling up in your room. if you’re me, the clothes pile up on the floor first and if they are lucky, they end up in the laundry bag. and you have to understand, i have an embarrassing amount of clothing. (working at a t-shirt company for three years afforded me more shirts than i am willing to admit).

i am one of those people who will put a t-shirt on, dislike my choice, take it off, and throw it on the floor merely because i am too lazy to fold it and put it back on my shelf. rinse and repeat. this goes for all items of clothing. and when you have a closet as tiny as mine – when all of my clothes are clean, folded and/or hung, I actually cannot fit them into my closet. so, inevitably, there will always be some strays lying around even at my most tidy of times.

first things first. when i have decided that enough is enough (meaning, i’ve spilled well over my laundry bag into two large black trash bags) it is time to pay a visit to the horrible land of detergent, quarters, and cotton. a place that i despise so much i would not wish it upon my worst enemies.

(and for all of you who have laundry machines in your building, or better yet – in your house/apt, i am so green with envy that i can hardly breathe. i know, from experience, that when i have such facilities at my disposal – i tend to use them far more frequently and with far less disdain).

that said, i do have both a washer and dryer in my building. first of all, they are in the basement. and by basement, i mean dirty-scary-worthy-of-a-scene-from-a-horror-film garage. i only go to the garage when i am taking out the trash or retrieving my car. now, if both machines worked – i would use them. but, as ‘luck’ would have it, the washing machine is broken (with no hope of being fixed). sure, the dryer works. but seriously ? you think i’m going to wash my clothes at The Laundromat and haul piles of wet clothing back to this filthy basement so that i can dry them one tiny load at a time ? no, i am not.

so, The Laundromat itself. the place is called ‘Fashion Laundromat.’ this name could not be farther from the truth. i would cry at the irony, but it’s so much easier to laugh.

The Coin Machine :: it’s time for quarters. and lots of them. maybe back in the day, when laundromats were cheaper, this made sense. however, these days when you do your laundry you will find yourself with a pocket full of quarters. so many quarters that the pants you are wearing that did not previously require a belt now do. eight for the washing machine. eleven for the dryer. times that by 3-6 loads (when washing all bedding and towels as well) – let’s do the math :: the washers are teeny tiny, so i end up using four or five of them. that’s ten dollars. the dryers are large, but temperamental (more on that later). each dryer claims that you can only use “11 Quarters At A Time Or Machine Maybe Stop” – so i end up, in shifts, using fifteen quarters per dryer (and use two dryers). all in all, i spend close to twenty dollars on my most despised activity. that’s just stupid and annoying.

now, when i place a five dollar bill in The Coin Machine, it spews my quarters back at me, with little pauses here and there. i have never taken the time to count my change (because honestly ? i want this whole Laundry Day to move as quickly as possible), but what would prevent this decrepit machine from shorting me one or two quarters ? unless you sit there and count your change, how will you know that you received all five dollars back in quarters ? and even if i did take it upon myself to count, if i found myself short twenty-five cents, what can i do ? sure, there’s a number on the wall of the laundromat (i assume for the owner/manager/operator), but do you really think that they will give a f*ck if i make a complaint ? and i have already called them once and never heard back (more on that later). so, in short, i would rather be in denial of the change they are likely shorting me because knowing about it would make Laundry Day that much more intolerable.

Privacy and Hygiene :: there’s nothing private about The Laundromat. you are washing, drying, and folding your underwear surrounded by strangers. there are no secrets at The Laundromat. once in a while you may find yourself in some awkward conversation there while killing time and all i can think about is the fact that my underwear is three feet from this person’s face. i never initiate laundromat conversations. laundromat conversations just happen – even to the best of us – and i have found that putting your headphones on (even if they are connected to nothing and there is no music) is the best way to avoid them. and cleanliness. i am here to clean my clothes, yet i can’t escape the fact that i am using machines that have previously been filled with dirty/soiled clothing. perhaps i am over-reacting, but i do think that with every load of laundry i do, i acquire some ounce or speck of another person’s filth. that said, when removing clothes from the dryer, it’s impossible not to find some tangled knot of clothing. this forces you to pull a rather large amount of clothing out at once and it is a certainty that at least one sock or pair of underwear will land on the floor. no matter how careful i am, something lands on the floor. at this, i only shrug because i think back to the washing machine and figure my clothes have already been tarnished and the floor really can’t be much worse. maybe the bacteria in this place will only strengthen my immune system in the long run, so help me god.

The Incline :: i am aware that one thing that San Francisco is known for is its stupidly steep hills. but do we need to deal with this at The Laundromat ? this particular establishment has a remarkably uneven floor. in the middle of loading your now dry clothing into a basket on wheels (and, seriously, the rolling basket cannot be that clean) – the basket will roll away from you if you don’t put your foot behind one of the wheels to act as a set of brakes. these rolling baskets have gotten the best of me several times. i have, on occasion, allowed the basket to roll away so i can watch how far it will drift – purely for my own amusement. it will roll from one end of The Laundromat to the other – no joke. for a business that requires equipment on wheels, you’d think they’d make sure the d*mn floor was level. and you wonder why i lose a pair of underwear or socks to the floor when unloading the dryer.

The Machines :: the washers and dryers are completely unreliable. there is one washer (#6) that, during it’s last 10 minutes of the cycle, will start shaking rather violently. it always elicits stares from those in The Laundromat; everyone, likely thinking, ‘boy, i’m glad i didn’t use that one.’ it tends to shake and jive a couple of inches from the wall. the clothes don’t seem to be harmed by it – but the noise it makes and the stares it provokes are enough to stop me from using it ever again. as for the dryers which i have deemed ‘temperamental.’ my first tip off was when i had just unloaded my laundry and a fellow next to me asked if i was done. i said i was and he pulled his clothes from the dryer they were already in and placed them in the dryer i had just finished using, claiming that “this one is better.” better ? shouldn’t they all be the same ? about a month ago, one of my roommates came home from The Laundromat bitching because his clothes had been charred by one of the dryers. according to him, they’d only been spinning for about twenty minutes when smoke began pouring out of the machine. unfortunately, by the time he stopped the dryer to save his clothing, they were already burn victims. he was forced to throw away an entire load of clothing. i saw the damage and it was not pretty. he asked if i would call the aforementioned number on the wall of The Laundromat to place a complaint (his second language is English and he felt that an American calling to bitch might be more effective), i called them three times. i left three different voicemails. i never heard back, not once. this explains why i also do not set the dryer to ‘high heat,’ for fear of ruining my clothing, forcing me to use a few more quarters to get my clothes completely dry.

so why do i keep going there ? it’s the closest laundromat to our apartment. the next closest is a bit of a walk that i really would rather not make on my least favorite day. for all of you who can fully understand my Laundromat Woes, know that you are in good company. this world is rough and The Laundromat only makes it worse. break out your violins and i will cry you a river.




Filed under Year of the Pig Studio // San Francisco, CA

2 responses to “a few words on The Laundromat

  1. Pingback: run, forrest, run. & “a.” | Year of the Pig Studio

  2. Pingback: the laundromat (take two) | Year of the Pig Studio

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