Last trip to the Laundry Mat

“$9.45,” the barista announced and I handed her a five dollar bill and 18 quarters.

“I won’t be needing these anymore,” I thought to myself as I reached into my coin bag and handed her most of my heavy quarter stash. I had just completed doing the laundry at the laundry mat for my family and was treating myself to a Starbuck’s treat.

For the past year while I lived in a rental house with no working washer or dryer, I began visiting a nearby laundry mat to complete this chore. I first got used to making sure to have cash with me. I even designated a ziplock bag to holding quarters. I quickly got used to carrying the filled laundry bins of dirty clothes to the car, driving a few miles to a laundry mat, filling 3-4 washers with dirty clothes for 32 minutes and then transferring the wet clothes to 3-4 dryers for 10-20 minutes. Both machines require quarters to run, 11 to wash and 4-6 to dry.While the machines worked their cleaning magic, I just sat and waited. I filled this time reading or checking my email. Then I’d stand at a table, fold the cleaned clothes and sometimes, treat myself to Starbuck on the way home.

Today was my last time to complete this cleaning cycle because on Thursday, HHGregg is delivering a washer and dryer to the new house that we built. No more quarter-stashing needed. No more carrying the laundry detergent in the trunk. No more devoted time to washing and drying all the clothes during one visit to the laundry mat. Now, I could run a load of wash at anytime throughout my week in the comfort of my our home. And I would enjoy doing many other tasks while my clothes cleaning magic happened. Smiling, I sipped my drink.

Yet, a small part of me sipped my drink and felt a little sad. No longer would I visit this spot which gave me a glimpse at a whole other world. One where mostly Hispanic men gathered to clean the clothes for their family. One where flat screen TVs played soccer and Telemundo.  One where I used my phone to figure out the translation of the posted signage. One where I was the minority, a white woman.

As the 2016 Presidential Election speeches talk of the widening gap between the wealthy and the poor, I never want to forget this world I joined last year. The world of apartment renters. This world of hard-working, happy dark skin men making the magic of clean clothes happen for their families.

==========================================================================NOTE: Often I think my SOL needs to be a big, important topic. Today’s post reminds me that SOL is instead meant to be just that, a slice out of MY life. Looking back, I realized I have written about laundry three times before!  HERE and HERE  and  HERE !!

11 thoughts on “Last trip to the Laundry Mat

  1. Lisa Orchard says:

    Great post. I remember the time I had to return to the laundry mat when we built a new house. It’s a great way to remind yourself to be grateful for some of the little things in life.:)


  2. dianeandlynne says:

    Congratulations on your new home!
    I appreciate the sensitivity in your piece–your connection to the other laundry mat patrons. I think that this election cycle is tearing us apart. When we see, actually see, our fellow citizens at work and play, we feel connected. I believe these connections will win out eventually. At least I pray they will.


  3. Adrienne says:

    Amen. I remember going to the laundromat when my washer died and I was saving for the replacement, back in the 90’s. I thought there was a crazy person doing her laundry, but she seemed pretty well dressed and her words made sense, though one sided. Then, I saw this thing in her ear…it was my first encounter with someone talking on the phone in public!


  4. marilynyung says:

    I get it! I used to do my laundry at a mat and enjoyed that designated time to read and observe and think. Yes, it was a chore and a hassle, but not really a burden. But then again, I was fresh out of college and felt/knew/hoped that using a laundromat wouldn’t be a permanent thing. I would not have enjoyed it otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tara Smith says:

    This post took me back to the days when I lived in Brooklyn and worked in Manhattan – every Saturday morning, I’d haul two loads five blocks to the laundromat and spend two hours with a wide range of Americans. There was something so humanizing and equalizing about that experience. Great slice!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Brian Rozinsky says:

    I identify with this post, Sally. (Still have a cup with stray quarters, but my hording habits have dwindled over time as I, too, do laundry now at home…) I love the little details that you capture from how things were and how you use those as launching points into bigger ideas.


  7. Amy Warntz says:

    I’m glad you treated yourself to a Starbucks to use up those quarters. It almost seems like going to laundry mat might be like a secret get-a-way without any interruptions. I’m happy you took the time to share your story. I really enjoyed reading it and I love your writing style. ~Amy

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jaana says:

    Your life is richer for the new experiences that you have had this past year. Your fellow laundry mat users will stay in your mind and memories a lot longer than the laundry will stay clean:)


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