If you had 24 hours left in this world, odds are that you wouldn’t want to spend any of that time in a laundromat. I mean you’re going to die anyways so I guess you really wouldn’t care if you had clean clothes or not, but aside from that, laundromats stink, and nobody has fun at them. I’d rank going to the laundromat somewhere between a visit to the BMV, and having dinner with your in-laws. As a kid, you really take for granted the act of someone else cleaning your clothes. We had a laundry chute at my house when I was little, so whenever I had dirty clothes, or was jumping into the shower, I just took them off and slid them down the chute, and like magic, they’d resurface in a day or two, all clean and fresh. Well those magical days are over.
I remember the first time I entered a laundromat. I was in my mid-twenties, and honestly, it was quite a shock. I had always lived somewhere with a washer and dryer, and even when I didn’t, I had just naturally let my dirty clothes pile up, and when the pile started to resemble Mount Everest, I’d load them up in my car and head to my folk’s house. I entered the laundromat that day with my basket of dirty clothes, to see what could have easily been a people of walmart calendar shoot. I mean there was a lady with a with a polar pop shoved between her breasts, holding a crying baby in both arms. There were kids drawing penises on the walls with crayons. There was (gasp) an orca of a woman, folding her g-strings neatly onto a table, next to her “hottie” shorts. I almost threw my clothing down and ran in fear, but I realized that would mean I wouldn’t have shit to wear the next day to work, so I bit the bullet and settled in for one wild trip of people watching.
The people you will meet at your local laundromat:
The single-mother with a dozen kids. She takes up about ten washers and ten dryers at any given time, her kids are unruly, and they usually smell like they were playing with a wet dog. There are typically one or two of these women at the laundromat most visits. Good luck trying to watch TV, her kids already lost the remote.
The drunk. On multiple visits to my local laundromat, I have witnessed the drunk. It is not clear if the drunk is actually doing laundry, or just simply saw the lights and people, and wandered in for kicks. He will typically try to talk to you, or to anyone who will listen, his breath smells of whiskey, and at some point, he will ask you if you have a cigarette.
The old lady who demands that you use her dryer, because there’s 10 minutes left. There must be some unspoken laundry law, that if your clothes dry before the time is up on your dryer, you must pass along this remaining time to someone else. This woman will tell you “here, use this dryer! There’s 10 minutes left!”. This is of course after you have already loaded all of your laundry into an empty dryer. You will tell her “no, it’s okay”, and with this, she will become extremely insulted. Other laundromat patrons may also shoot you dirty looks, because there are poor children in Africa that are starving, and you refuse to use her leftover 10 minutes, which in laundry terms equals 25 cents.
The possible homeless person. This fella wanders around the laundromat, asking everyone for quarters. You are usually unsure if they are just down on their luck, and didn’t quite bring enough quarters to clean all of their dirty socks with holes in them, of if they are literally a homeless person, trying to earn enough scratch to get their next forty. Honestly I will never know, I’m not giving anyone a damn quarter.
The main obstacle when doing laundry, aside from avoiding all of the crazy people that you will meet, is keeping yourself entertained. I’ve done everything, from pacing around in the parking lot, to counting the floor tiles over and over. The key is to go into this thing with a plan, if you want to make it out alive.
How to entertain yourself at the laundromat:
Watch TV. Watching the television in the laundromat is what I would imagine watching television in a prison would be like. The TV is old, and bolted to the wall, the person watching next to you smells, and the program playing always sucks. At my laundromat, it’s usually a mixture of Dancing with the Stars and American Pickers. Would it kill them to put on a little ESPN now and then?
Video Games. My laundromat has a couple of outdated arcade games. There’s a Golden Tee machine, that I am not 100% sure even works, and some pinball machine that has something to do with Santa Clause, a vampire, and a taxi cab. You cannot make this stuff up. Make sure to bring extra quarters.
Peruse the magazines. I hope you like Highlights. Of course, some asshole has already circled all of the hidden items in the seek and find, so what’s the point.
So in the end, you find quite a melting pot of people in your local laundromat. Some ask you for money, and others just smell like wet dog. I guess at the end of the day, it’s not all that different from a trip to Walmart, so what’s the difference. Wash on, people. Wash on.