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Misadventures in Laundry Land

December 2, 2010

I’m at a laundromat for the first time in my life and I’m here – surprise! – to do some laundry. I’ve done the laundry at home a million times before. It’s an activity so simple, it’s actually calming to perform. Before my sister went off to college, my mother (THE Queen of Clean) entrusted me (a big, big deal) with schooling my sister on the how-to’s and what-not-to-do’s of laundry. Clearly I am well-within the bounds of sanity to feel fully confident in my ability to get clothes clean.

I am so confident as I saunter through the double doors of the self-service laundromat that I’m barely fazed even after I realise there is no detergent and I hadn’t thought to bring any with me. I smile at the couple doing their laundry (surely not as well as I do mine) and stroll back out. As I return from the off-license (convenience store) down the road with a box of laundry powder tucked under my arm, I am sure that this is to be my only slip-up and so I proceed with arrogant abandon. This is, of course, my next mistake.

I examine the machines and decide which one I want; I am no ordinary laundry-washer! I am daughter of THE Queen of Clean. I find the most suitable machine, take note of the number and head over to the pay point. I ignore the instructions (because this is me and I know how to do laundry), I enter the machine number and the insert £5 worth of coins as it requests. Almost instantly my machine springs to life. I stare at it dumbfounded with my giant bag of laundry still wedged between my knees. Oh.

The machine, of course, refuses to stop or give me any sort of second chance. Feeling a tad exasperated and unwilling to glance at the couple who have managed to turn their machine on with their clothes inside it, I find another machine and decide to read the instructions this time.

1. Load machine (well, there you go).
2. Add soap.
3. Set temperature.
4. Remember number.
5. Go to pay point.
6. Follow the instructions (okay, smart-ass… I got it).

I place my clothes in the machine. I add the soap. I almost always wash my clothes at 30°C, but as they don’t have actual temperature indicators I decide to play it safe and go with a cold setting. Step 4, check. Step 5, check. Money in and we’re off.

I settle in on the bench facing my machine and pull out a magazine. Five minutes pass and I glance at my machine. Odd. There’s no foam, no glorious soapy lather. I can now feel the frustration building as I look at this stupid machine as it tosses my clothes around in it’s belly full of un-frothy water. I stare angrily at the machine and read the fine print which I’d obviously ignored (who reads fine print?).

“If using the cold wash option, make sure to place the soap in the pre-wash section of the soap drawer only”

What a joke. I’ve spent £10 and my clothes are still dirty. I fiddle with the dials and hopefully the machine is now going to finish sooner. Hopefully, as the machine gives no indication as to when it will be done mocking me. Twenty minutes pass, the machine has had it’s fun and we try again.

I plop myself back down on the bench. I’m no longer embarrassed or annoyed. Instead I’m feeling slightly pathetic and sad. Not even the suds that are thankfully sloshing about make me feel better. I feel even more sad as I realise that I’m having a little pity-party for one because of laundry and that that really is pathetic. Then I decide to let it go and get over it. It’s kinda funny actually and I find myself laughing to myself. The couple are just leaving with their laundry and probably think I’m a weirdo by now, so who cares. I spot the poster in the corner of the room offering a £100 reward to anyone who has info about the gang who are terrorising patrons of this laundromat and I’m not chuckling anymore. What a brilliant idea this trip wasn’t. Now I’m going to get mugged… although, odds are that by the time I’m done with the laundry, I probably won’t have any cash left on me anyway.

I realise by now that despite my respectable cleaning pedigree, I’m failing at this experience. I’ve been here for about an hour and a quarter already. It’s cold outside and the winter sky is dark and doing a great job at fuelling my imagination.

I approach the last hurdle: the dryer. I decide to toss everything in for 10 minutes to get started, then remove the more delicate items and give the remaining clothes a good 20 minutes extra. I can’t be bothered sitting here anymore and I don’t normally use the dryer anyway. I’m cold, tired and slightly less grumpy than I’m about to become as I get home only to find that my key won’t work and none of the flatmates are home. This is also a less grumpy version of the me of 15 minutes later who is standing in the apartment holding up a skirt that despite still being wet, the dryer has destroyed.

Bloody brilliant.



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