Laundromats … they have a code of their own. I happen to rediscover that on a recent trip to wash the dog bed and other essential doggie items.
I ran into the old school laundry ladies — the kind that scout out their dryers just as they’re putting the Ariel soap inside the washers. I ran into the kind of ladies that see you coming and grab hold of another cart knowing full well they won’t need one until the cycle is done, but they’re covering their bases. Bitches. I ran into the old school laundry chick that reserves two tables to fold her clothes. I ran into the old school lady that never seems to lose a pair of socks. I ran into the old school lady that knows the manager and gets to watch telenovelas on the Zenith as she fluff and folds. I ran into the old school ladies that scoped me out as soon as I walked through the doors. They assessed me on the spot, and knew I wouldn’t get the “good” dryer.
I appeared not to be a threat.
This entire experience reminded me of the last time I did laundry in one of these places.
The last time?
I was back in high school. If you ever looked at the hours and noticed the 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM sign and wondered who the hell would ever be there at five o’clock in the morning? Me. That’s who. The entire Guat clan. My mother suffered from early-riser syndrome. We had no cure for it, so we had to suffer too. My father, sister, and I suffered more from the late-night-TV watcher syndrome. These disorders clashed on Sunday mornings.
I know what you’re thinking? Did we have washers in our building? Yes! Yes we did.
But it didn’t matter that our building had two washers and two dryers for our own convenience. It didn’t matter that you tried doing your own laundry in the building during the week and had no dirty clothes at all, you were waking up at 4:40 AM and making the trip. Regardless! Laundry was a family affair, well more like a family penance. Everyone got involved. Everyone.
Every Sunday morning, before the sun was even up, my mom would wake everybody in the house. Not in a gentle, nice “hey dears wake up.” It was more of an army drill sergeant that turns on the lights and scares the crap out of you. They’re barking orders, and you’re totally half asleep, falling out of bed, and running into doors and dressers. It was sweatpants, t-shirts, and baseball caps for everyone.
I passed on that morning ritual. I was too exhausted to turn the knobs.
We’d drag the ginormous laundry bags and Cheer detergent to the station wagon. My dad would drive us and we’d be one of the first families opening up those Maytag bad boys. Once the clothes were in the washer you would think we could go back and sleep in the station wagon, right?
No, just my dad.
We had to engage in laundromat warfare. We held onto carts and tables, because some of the old school ladies trickling in would just take your detergent, fabric softener, or laundry bags out of the basket or off the tables and claim ownership.
And if one of those old school laundry ladies got the drop on us with a cart, dryer, or folding table you bet we’d hear about from our mom. You see she happen to be one of these old school laundry ladies herself and tried to school us on laundromat warfare. She thought it would be easier on us to do laundry when it was less crowded, an in and out trip early in the morning — a trip that lasted two-and-a-half hours. I don’t know what she was thinking. Nothing was easy at 5 AM on a Sunday morning. Nothing.
I was so happy when I went off to college. I could do laundry at any time. I usually chose to do it at 11 o’clock … at night.