There are a few distinct joys to being a renter:
Rightfully throwing up one’s hands when the toilet is leaking.
Smugly listening to home owner friends’ woes about the price of a new hot water heater (what the hell is that? a tea kettle?).
Basically living in an apartment is one endless conga line of SOMEONE ELSE’S PROBLEM! *hip check left* SOMEONE ELSE’S PROBLEM! *hip check right* HEY!
One delight of lessee-ship, however, is not (repeated) IS NOT visiting the laundromat.
It’s not just the fact that the one laundry service in our town is run by two semi-helpful and fully woolly individuals who show only slight interest in their small business, but they also seem to hate people having their laundry in said machines. As in, tossing my unmentionables in a spare room or on full display on a table when left in there too long.
AND their machines have ruined several articles of our white clothing.
AND they are masters of price gouging, as the only gig in town.
AND they seem unperturbed by the several OUT OF ORDER signs adorning half (literally) of their ancient and most likely fire hazardous machines. A and I joke that they are just going to slide new machines in front of the out of order ones until they are so stacked up you can’t even enter the business anymore. BUT REALLY, NO ONE IS LAUGHING.
In short: they are wretched.
But we faithfully patronize this seventh layer of hell each weekend to insure fresh clothing for the upcoming work week.
Not something I can apparently say for the other patrons of this business, which I so fortunately encountered today.
Sunday, 12:45 p.m.: Pull up to laundromat, which ironically includes the name “lucky” in its name, to see the parking lot PACKED. The lot probably would not have this problem, except the “parking lot” is really just a gravel square with a feeble spray painted line in front of the door marking a fire lane. Other than that, people park horizontally, diagonally and practically inside the ‘mat in a haphazard fashion not seen since watching traffic from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
This does not bode well for our experience.
We walk in and manage to stake out two washing machines for our own use. A is mostly in charge of loading the washers since my approach is the frantic MASH STOMP STUFF approach and he delicately places each article around the drum lovingly. So I guess we now know who is putting any future children into the car seat.
I watch A whisper sweet nothings to the intricately nestled pants while I hold open the door for a woman who is struggling to enter with arms loaded with drawstring bags. She plops her clothing at my feet directly inside of the door (inside monologue: “Jesus lady, that’s a lot of … wait, fire lane?) as she returns to her car.
She then returns with a basket.
And a Rubbermaid storage tub.
And more bags.
And reinforcements in the form of another woman lugging in more bags and baskets.
I was half expecting a crane to take the roof off of the building and a dump truck to slide mountains of soiled turtlenecks onto the 700 people already jostling for a top-loader, burying us all alive in polyester.
Completely feasible, because my husband works for a company just down the street that customizes crane and dump trucks.
Totally legitimate reaction.
We (I mean A) finish loading the machine and escape before total chaos erupts.
Sunday, 2:45: I lurch off the couch remembering we have two machines full of g-damn laundry that need to be flipped. Valiantly, I agree to enter the fray alone.
When I pull up, there are literally ZERO spaces. I try to wiggle in to one beside a John Deere green pickup and a battered mini van, but their vehicles have formed sort of a rhombus in the parking lot and my attempt fails. I have to wait for a rusty sedan to pull away, but not until his curly mullet waves goodbye out of the rearview. (small town Iowa.)
I walk into what I thought was the laundromat, but I apparently stumbled upon a family reunion. People have set up camp next to the one and a half working dryers and do not appear to be giving up their post at any time. There are entire families playing games and serving refreshments, seemingly tickled by the tumbling, THE TUMBLING.
At an attempt at smugness, I retrieve my ONE LOAD of washing out of the machine and stand next to a dryer with only one minute to go. HOT DOG!
And then, out of nowhere, a man with no teeth but plenty of gumption zooms from behind someone’s laundry mountain with two wire laundry trolleys overflowing with NO FEAR t-shirts and overalls (educated guess) and nabs my place in line, shooting me a savage look that says, “I HAVE BEEN HERE FOR PERT NEAR 17 HOURS AND AM NOT GOING TO RELINQUISH MY DAG GUM OPENING!”
I feebly try to explain I have a meager and NORMAL laundry BASKET.
“Sir? Hi! Can I scoot in there before you? Mine will only take a few minutes (as I only have one week’s worth of wash instead of 16) and then it’ s all yours!”
(fantasize about stealing ugly BIG DOG t-shirt to make into voodoo doll, but refrain.)
Continue to feel ostracized for my normal pile of laundry during ensuing interaction with obnoxious laundry trolley man and dump truck woman from earlier, who apparently has not left the building for hours and is taking up an entire curtain rod with the contents of her closet, and perhaps also every article of clothing manufactured by Hanes. They strike up a jolly conversation about his good timing selecting one of the only working machines.
(cut to me, and my sizzling scalp of passive aggressive fury)
I stop another woman, who seems to have most of her chromosomes and a working knowledge how much laundry is too much to unload on the village’s lone service, and ask her if any of the dryers that are open actually work.
“That one behind you? Maybe? You kind of have to battle it.”
Cut to me again: hanging from the dryer’s dial because it inexplicably gets stuck when putting in an American quarter. This town must have its own laundry currency or they got this worthless machine from Bangladesh … either is possible at this point.
I send up a prayer to the laundry gods to not melt our clothing (however it would not be our entire clothing wardrobe, as well as every quilt and curtain I own, unlike the other satanic laundry pilgrims in this place) because Beef’s favorite toy is in there, and she would be devastated.
Then, have to duck when another woman races by with a Rubbermaid tub (SINCE WHEN IS THAT AN ACCEPTABLE LAUNDRY TRANSPORTING VEHICLE) and almost beheads me.
I’m not sure if a common New Year’s resolution in small town Iowa is to make the effort to wash their clothing more than once every four months, but I announced one of my own as I burst into the apartment and unloaded the dirty laundry of my experience onto my docile, content-on-the-couch husband.
“WE ARE DOING OUR LAUNDRY ON FRIDAY NIGHT! MARK MY WORDS!”
(Note: I still have to go back to retrieve my “hopefully” dried and not incinerated laundry. Watch for my mugshot.)