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Laundry Day

Laundry Day.

Quite possibly my least favorite day of the week. Ok, every other week.

Back in San Francisco, it started off being a weekly event. Every Tuesday we would gather up our dirty laundry, shove it into our two laundry bags, and trudge to Wishy Washy on the corner of Page and Steiner. Invariably, every other time we would show up there all of the washers would be full so we would muster up our residual strength and haul it down the hill to Haight Laundry (quite an apropos name, eh?&#41 where there was never a crowd (but always a wacko or two… and there's nothing quite like a Haight Street Wacko… if you've never experienced one of these individuals, book a trip to San Francisco… wherever you live will suddenly feel much, much nicer&#41. Back then, we needed to go every week because we had just enough socks and underwear to make it 10 days. Sure, we had enough shirts and pants to make it through a full two weeks, but unless I wanted to be swinging loose in my pants, these weekly laundry runs were a necessity.

Then we made the mistake of buying more underwear.

Sure, having more than 14 pairs of underwear meant that we only had to do laundry every other week. But now we had to carry twice as much laundry to the Wishy Washy (or down the hill to Haight Laundry which meant that we would have to carry it all back up the hill… and leaving the laundry in the laundromat while you make two trips is not even remotely suggestible in our old neighborhood&#41. Plus, neither laundromat ever had enough free washers or dryers to handle a two-week-Glasser-load so we would have to put half in, and then while the first half was drying put the second half in the washer. In the end, purchasing more underwear did nothing aside from increase our frustration.

Sure, we still could have gone every week, but then why did we buy more skivvies?

Now that we're in Hartford, Laundry Day is still a chore. Yes, we don't have to carry the behemoth bags of dirty clothes a half-block to the laundromat, but we still have to carry it down three long flights of stairs plus the walk to the car (it sounds trivial, and it is… but when you're just back from a long day of work, it just feels like it takes forever&#41.

The only good thing about laundry here is the laundromat.

Lindy's Launderette on South Quaker Lane in West Hartford is the closest thing to a "nice" laundromat. They have an ample number of soda/snack/bottled water machines… couches and chairs… a television that has the Simpsons on if you get there between 5:30 and 6:30… an operational change machine… and tons of washers and dryers of myriad size. Sounds like heaven, right?

Maybe it's more like purgatory…

Sure, Lindy's is significantly better than any laundromat we've ever used on a regular basis, but it still has its problems. First off, at any given time there are tons of kids running around, probably because they're bored out of their little minds. You see, when we go to the laundry, I bring a book or get a newspaper. I've stopped bringing my Gameboy because I'm sick of the little buggers hawking over me like they're trying to claim "dibs" on it when I'm done. On more than one occasion I've had to tell them that it's rude to watch over someone's shoulder without asking if it's OK first. Just once I would have liked for one of these kids' mothers to notice that they're bugging the hell out of me and tell their demon spawn to give me some fucking space!

We also have our freaks. Sometimes it's just the occasional harmless deviant watching women folding their bras and panties (note: anyone who actually folds their thongs is a freak in and of themselves&#41. Sometimes we get treated to a screaming match in Russian or Spanish or one of the other languages of the Greater Hartford Area. Every once in a while, we get the irate woman who paces back and forth in front of a finished dryer waiting for someone to take their clothes out so they can put their wet clothes in (why they don't ask the attendant to take it out is beyond me&#41. Aah, but tonight we were treated to an all new type of freak.

Introducing the Laundry Freak of the Bi-Week: Clueless Girl.

Clueless Girl came in while we were in the final 15 minute stretch before the dryers would be finished making our extremely wet clothes into only mildly damp clothes. She couldn't have looked more out of place. Here, in the middle all of the laundromat veterans who were wearing their "laundry clothes" – the ripped jeans and tattered sweatshirts that you only wear to the laundromat because you want to clean everything else that you own – was this make-up wearing, three inch heels and jeans up her ass crack bleached blonde 90 pound girl. She was standing just through the threshold of the sliding door and was quite confused.

She walked towards a set of washers dragging her bags behind her like a drunken neighborhood Santa on his last house of the evening. Then she stopped and noticed the attendant behind the counter. Now, instead of leaving her bags of clothes where they were (unobtrusively leaning up against a washer&#41, she lugged them over to the counter so she could ask the attendant something…

Attendant: Can I help you?
Clueless Girl: What time do you close?
Attendant: 9, but the last wash is at 8.
CG: So no washing after 8?
Attendant: No washing after 8.

Ok, not too clueless yet…

CG: Are all of the washers taken?
Attendant: (scans the laundromat and notices that almost all of the washers are free&#41 – No, most of them are open, see? (insert Attendant's sweeping hand motion&#41t
CG: The big ones or the small ones?
Attendant: I see that the small ones are all open and (insert image of Attendant squinting towards the big washers&#41 and I think some of the big ones are open.
CG: Do I need to figure out how many loads or just put them into the machines? Should I sort them first? (CG reaches for her wallet… possibly thinking she needed to pre-pay for the services&#41
Attendant: (Shrugging her shoulders as she tries to make sense of CG's questions&#41 The change machine is over in the corner. It gives you quarters for the washers.

The Clueless Girl turns around, grabs her bags and starts dragging her bags towards the folding table. She teeters on her heels a number of times before finally hoisting her clothes up onto the table. She separates into colors and whites while Janet, the Attendant and I all watch to see what happens next…

Time passes. Clueless Girl is at the large $4.50 quad-load washer (it is rated for 50lbs of laundry&#41. She is attempting to insert money into the machine, but the quarter keeps coming out of the return slot.

CG: (frustratedly yelling for the attendant&#41 The machine isn't taking my muh-ney!
Attendant: It only takes quarters.
CG: I've got lots of quarters, but it won't take them. It just keeps spitting them out!
Attendant: Make sure the door is shut properly.
CG: (opens and shuts the door about 10 times then tries the quarters again&#41 They just keep popping out!
Attendant: Let me see… (She then grabs a handful of quarters from under the desk and walks over. Arriving at the washer, she inserts a quarter into the machine. It takes it&#41
CG: Oh, I was putting the money in the bottom slot.

Yes, she was putting the quarters into the slot labeled: Coin Return. As the attendant walked back towards her counter, shaking her head, CG had one more question for her.

CG: Is it counting DOWN?

Yes folks, it said $4.50. The attendant put in two quarters and it was down to $4.00 and now she asks if it is counting up or down.

She wasn't stoned. She wasn't drunk. She was simply clueless. As she left the laundromat with half of her dirty clothes in tow (instead of in one of the dozens of free washers&#41, our dryers finished and we went to take out our laundry. As I walked to one of our dryers, I noticed that the $4.50 washer that stumped Clueless Girl had barely enough clothes inside to fill half of a $1.50 single washer.

With my freak quotient filled, Janet and I walked to the car, lugging our heavy bags of clean laundry, and talking about the freaks we had to deal with in the laundromat. It was 65 degrees out and for the briefest of moments I thought I was back in San Francisco again.

Posted in Observations.

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