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 !!

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March 7 – I Tried Betsy’s Poetry Idea!

As Betsy suggested on Day 5, I took my March 4th small moment:

 

In Venice, laundry seems to be more than just a chore. It seems to be a work of art. First, it is pinned and moved along the pulley line to form a perfect composition. As each piece is hung, a piece never drops by accident  or comes loose and falls to the sidewalk or canal below. Then, as it hangs, one piece next to another, a pattern is created. Like a border painted inside a room for decoration, a Venetian’s clean clothing decorates a building’s facade. Laundry Day brightens up the neighborhood!
I pulled out some words, some phrases.

 

I wrote as a poem:
Venetian laundry
More than just a chore
It hangs as a work of art
One piece next to another
Pinned along the pulley line
Above the walkways and canals
A colored pattern created
Against a stucco canvas
Venetian laundry
Decorating a building’s facade
Brightening up the neighborhood
A perfect composition
Thanks, Betsy!!

March 5 – Another SOL about Laundry

Armed with my 2 rolls of quarter from the bank, my jug of Tide detergent and my overflowing laundry basket, I pulled into the coin laundry mat. Both the washer and dryer at my house were acting up and with no time to call/meet a repair man, I decided to do what I did back in college – visit the coin laundry mat.

As I entered, I noticed it right away. The people inside were mostly Latino men. They were either watching soccer on one of the four flat screen TVs or chatting in Spanish to a friend while folding laundry. There were just a few women, also Latino and a few young kids. I was the only mid-aged white lady doing her laundry.

As I added 12 quarters and detergent to a washer filled with my whites and then to another filled with my darks, I thought about my life and the life of those around me. I own a single family home in a neighborhood outside of Washington, DC which has both a washer and dryer in the basement. Due to my teaching schedule, I haven’t been able to call a repair man or be home to meet him if I did. So for now, I’m just a visitor here and not a regular. Yet, around me are the regulars.  I admit, it surprises me that they are mostly men. The TVs are a great draw for this crowd.

I wonder which came first..Latino men at the laundry mat or the flat screen TVs?!

March 4 – Laundry

While visiting Venice, Italy over Winter break, I saw this:

and this:

I snapped both photos while I, myself, was wearing layers of clothes under my heavy winter coat on a very brisk December day. I kept wondering, “Will this laundry really dry? It is 32 degrees outside. If so, how long will it take?”

In Venice, laundry seems to be more than just a chore. It seems to be a work of art. First, it is pinned and moved along the pulley line to form a perfect composition. As each piece is hung, a piece never drops by accident  or comes loose and falls to the sidewalk or canal below. Then, as it hangs, one piece next to another, a pattern is created. Like a border painted inside a room for decoration, a Venetian’s clean clothing decorates a building’s facade. Laundry Day brightens up the neighborhood!