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24-hour Laundry April 9, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — girljen @ 7:42 am

Liz has outgrown all of her 12-month clothes. Adding those to the pile of 6-month and 9-month clothes that we’ve been planning to donate made a huge mess of the bedroom, so much so that it created a trip hazard (and quite possibly a fire hazard, but a nice cushiony landing for the freak syncopal episode I had the other day).

I finally had to get my ass in gear and actually wash those clothes. In my home washing machine, that would have meant at least six loads of laundry. So, I had to go to the 24-hour laundromat.

It’s right in the middle of the sketchy part of town…and by “sketchy,” I mean, “really fun but don’t go there alone.” There are two theaters within blocks of the laundromat; both of them had shows going on. There are half a dozen bars in the area; judging by the crowds smoking outside of each bar, they were all crazy. Seeing all that, the most pressing issue on my mind was NOT how to get in on the party, but whether or not I’d find parking in the laundromat parking lot. I am officially a grown-up, and have jumped the shark thusly.

That laundromat is trying really hard to become a landmark. In a tongue-in-cheek way, it kind of is. Everyone recognizes it, everyone knows that it’s the only 24-hour laundromat in town. They’ve been making improvements; they have good video games and (w00t!) a Red Bull vending machine. They have the hugenormous washing machines that can hold 35 lbs. of laundry.

But just under the surface, that place is a soul-sucking pit of despair. I was panhandled three times.  I saw more homeless people than I could count get kicked out for loitering, including one on oxygen and one missing a leg. I saw the one employee on duty (who cleaned and cleaned and cleaned but the place never got any less dingy) get yelled at, once by a panhandler for not giving up any money, and once for not speaking enough English.

The quote of the night came from the guy using the machines next to mine; he was one of the loud guys who liked to yell at panhandlers. He had just finished folding his laundry, and he said to me, “Hey, will you watch my stuff? I don’t trust nobody here.” I wanted to point out to him that since he didn’t trust anyone, he probably shouldn’t let a complete stranger keep an eye on his stuff…but I didn’t want to get yelled at, or even talked to, so I just agreed and kept flipping through my Wired.

One Red Bull, one entire issue of Wired, and many unsettling experiences later, my laundry is done. I am never going to fall that far behind on laundry again…at least not for the next few months, until I forget what an awful place that laundromat is.

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