Laundromat Warfare

20 Sep

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.

This was the place …

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.


11 Responses to “Laundromat Warfare”

  1. TBM September 21, 2012 at 1:24 AM #

    I love reading your blog. Have you ever thought about writing your memoirs? I think you have something here. If you do, I would love to read them and review them 🙂

    • The Guat September 22, 2012 at 5:02 PM #

      Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuude. Thanks so much for the comment that really made my day. It’s on my to-do list I have a couple of stories already written down but I haven’t finished the series yet. But thanks for the encouragement I need to write faster so it can get done and maybe I can get it out there in the Amazon world 🙂

      • TBM September 23, 2012 at 2:29 AM #

        I look forward to it! I wish you luck and I totally understand about not being able to write fast enough.

  2. adinparadise September 21, 2012 at 8:20 AM #

    This is hilarious, TG. You certainly have a great ability to tell a story. 🙂 Happy weekend to you.

    • The Guat September 22, 2012 at 5:03 PM #

      Thanks for the good wishes. Glad this childhood memory could make you laugh 🙂

  3. bluebrightly September 22, 2012 at 11:06 AM #

    Oh, I’m SO happy I’m not doing that anymore – actually most recently I on;y had to fight the situation in my own building, in NYC, but that was bad enough, with giant roaches and disgusting stuff people would leave. One of the biggest draws to our present apartment is its own washer & dryer. Good idea above about writing your memoirs. Your writing is easy to follow and enjoyable.

    • The Guat September 22, 2012 at 5:05 PM #

      We’ve been looking for a place to live for a couple of months now and my number one rule other than no roaches of course, is having a washer and dryer. No exceptions. Two kids give you MASSIVE amounts of laundry 🙂 Thanks for your kind words and for stopping by 🙂

  4. lameadventures September 23, 2012 at 7:44 PM #

    My brownstone building does not have laundry facilities so for the 29 years I’ve lived here I’ve been doing it myself at my neighborhood Chinese laundromat. I always try to time my visits when it’s less crowded. Here in NYC there are all types of people that use my laundromat, and sometimes they space hog, but most of us recognize each other and practice laundry etiquette. Recently, I suffered a brain freeze at the dryer. I inserted my quarters, pressed the button, and then went home as my clothes dried. What I did not realize was that I pressed the button for the dryer I was not using. Fortunately, a few minutes after I left the clerk caught my error. Rather then penalize me for my stupidity, she inserted quarters on the house. An incident like this is why I still have a shred of hope for the human race.

    • The Guat September 25, 2012 at 1:35 AM #

      This type of humanity doesn’t exist down here, although someone did put quarters in my parking meter which I guess makes up for the crazy laundry ladies 🙂

      • lameadventures September 25, 2012 at 7:32 AM #

        Wow, that must have surprised you! Who puts quarters in a stranger’s meter … unless someone confused your car with theirs?

        • The Guat September 25, 2012 at 1:54 PM #

          I know right? I thought about that but it was just the one meter per space. No way of being confused … I thought wow … muy nice

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