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Some days, I’m not so crazy about doing laundry.

October 10, 2012

I’ve grown accustomed to doing my laundry every Thursday. And, you know, small town America and all, you get used to seeing the same crowd, the same folks, the same habits. There’s the girl who sits in the corner in her Birkenstocks, crunching an apple and reading a book about mushrooms. There’s the woman with the rolled-up jeans who brings her dog – a wiggly black lab who loves to greet everyone. And there’s the man who drops off his dry-cleaning at 11:30 every Thursday morning. Sprinkle in a few little old ladies and folks hiding behind their laptops (free wifi!) and you’ve got yourself a pretty typical Thursday.
However, due to some scheduling adjustments at work, I’m now doing my laundry on Wednesdays, and due to a serious lack of ambition, I didn’t arrive at the laundromat until about 3:00pm today. The place was mostly empty. I thought, “great! I’ll get a couple washers and dryers no problem, sit and surf the web – wahoo!”

(Yup. My subconscious makes exclamations like “wahoo!” all the time. It’s a scary place to be.)

I made it ALMOST through my wash cycle in complete solitude, save for the woman running the place, and the only indication of her presence was the almost imperceptible sound of “All Things Considered” coming from her computer behind the counter.

I flipped through the catalogs that came in today’s mail, and briefly considered what type of person would spend $300 on a toaster.

Then, with about two minutes left on the final spin, a little old couple walked in the door. They put their clothes in an empty washing machine, added detergent, fed it some quarters, pushed the button, and sat down.

And stared.

And stared.

And stared some more.

Like their towels moving in a circular path inside a box full of soapy water was the most exciting thing they had every witnessed.

Ignoring the diverse and extensive collection of magazines in the corner, they remained fixated on their washing machine.

(I later learned that the little old man was likely completely zoned out, as he made it very clear that he was bored to tears waiting inside a laundromat. I learned this after his fourth uttering of “Jesus Christ, can we go now?”)

The woman, however, had CLEARLY worn her judgy pants to the laundromat.

(Perhaps because everything else was in the wash.)

Oh, yes. To her, laundry was a spectator sport, and she had her score cards labeled “1” through “10” all ready to lift at a moment’s notice.

Upon the completion of my spin cycle, I rolled my little cart over to the washer,  retrieved my clothes, and wheeled them over to an open dryer. As I bent to grab a pair of my husband’s khakis, I heard a scornful voice from the chair by the door.

“You dropped a sock.”

This wasn’t a helpful “hey, just so you know…” statement. No, this was the voice of someone who was clearly horrified that I would allow a freshly washed sock to come in contact with a public floor.

The nerve, I KNOW.

I gave her a hurried “thanks” and retrieved my sock, tossed it into the dryer with the rest of my clothes, and settled in with my laptop for 24 minutes of tumbling on medium heat.

When the dryer beeped, I emptied it and took my clothes to one of the two folding tables. The attendant had paused her recording of NPR and was folding someone’s towels and pillowcases on the other.

The woman intently watched both of us. I began to feel a little self-conscious, having my every crease out there in the open for scrutiny.

I felt like a circus animal on parade.

She then turned to the attendant and exclaimed, “Now THAT’s some NEAT folding! You’re doing a great job!!”

The attendant awkwardly chuckled, made some statement about having lots of practice, and continued to fold.

At first, I felt a little deflated. “Hey,” I thought, “I can fold large rectangles into smaller rectangles just as nicely as anyone. Am I less of a person because I didn’t get complimented on MY folding?”

And then came the indignation.

“Who are you to pass judgment on my irregularly shaped items? Just because I’m folding a pair of running shorts and not a perfect pillowcase with four right angles, does that make me less of a laundress?? DOES IT? I’d like to see YOU fold a dolman-sleeve sweater, lady.”

She continued to watch me fold.

It felt as if, because I was born in the 80’s and missed out on the days of Ye Olde Style Of Laundering, with its washboards and galvanized tubs, that I couldn’t possibly grasp the concept of cleaning and storing my garments properly.

As my pile grew smaller, the entire situation grew to feel more and more ridiculous. Until finally, the woman got up and approached me.

“I’ve never seen anyone fold a shirt like you do.”

You see, I actually prefer to fold my t-shirts using a method I learned on YouTube.

(Perhaps her generalizations about my generation weren’t far off. You know, those generalizations my subconscious told me she was making. Those ones.)

So I shrugged, commented on how much faster it was than any method I’d ever tried, and folded another shirt, this time more slowly.

She then proceeded to GRAB ONE OF MY SHIRTS and try it for herself.
She nearly tied it in a knot.

We went through it step by step, and eventually she got it.

She chuckled, thanked me, said would go home and practice, and went to retrieve her own laundry.


So, maybe she was just a nosy old lady with nothing better to do than people-watch at the laundromat.

And maybe I taught her something today.


At any rate, I hope I at least earned an 8.5.
And even if I only earned a 4, I have clean underwear now.

So there’s that.

Lionel has nothing to do with this post, but I felt bad for giving you such a text-heavy post with no photos. Besides, the Internet needs more pictures of cats.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 10, 2012 9:55 pm

    I guess it’s a good thing you didn’t have any fitted sheets to fold!
    (Hi Lionel!)

    • emrycroft permalink
      October 10, 2012 10:24 pm

      Queen of the fitted sheet, sadly, I am not.

  2. Kim Walton permalink
    October 10, 2012 10:29 pm

    Oh my lord, Child, there aren’t many things that make me laugh right out loud, but you are one of them! 🙂 So you taught an old dog(I could use a much less kind word here, but I won’t) a new trick! Good work!

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