My First Laundromat Experience

The laundry room in my apartment building closes at 10 pm. This is too early.

Tonight I wanted to do laundry, but I couldn’t because it was getting close to 10 pm. So, I searched out a 24-hour laundromat in town. Can you believe that this town of 30 000 people has a 24-hour laundromat? Mariposa is full of surprises.

It wasn’t cheap. At $3 for a wash, and 25ยข for five minutes of drying time, it cost me $4.50 a load. Not too bad, compared to prices I was paying in Toronto, but much more than the $2.75 I would’ve paid if I had been a bit more organized during the day. Still, the machines work a lot better than the ones in my building. I guess it’s a fair tradeoff.

In any case, I had never been to a laundromat before. I had heard about them, even seen them being used in movies, so I had an idea of what to expect. It was much like what I thought it would be.

Now, I didn’t expect there to be many people using the laundromat at midnight, but I also didn’t expect to be the only one in there for the hour and 10 minutes I spent in there. It was calm inside, with the sound of the washers and dryers being drowned out by top 40 playing on the radio.

They had carts on wheels to move your laundry from the washers on the one side over to the dryers on the other. They had tables for folding running down the middle of the place. There was a dispenser for detergent and dryer sheets, a change machine, and a snack machine. There were, however, only four chairs available for people to sit on. I suppose you don’t need many chairs when there is only one person using the facilities. Lastly, there was a little enclosed play area.

The room was very well lit, and it was disheartening to see how discoloured my white t-shirts really are. I also learned that my black socks are really just a deep blue. A lot of my underwear has tiny holes in them, from years of being slid up and down my legs, I imagine. It must be the friction against my leg hair.

I brought a book with me, but I found myself somewhat preoccupied with walking the short hallways alongside the washing and drying machines. I concerned myself with why the front-loading washers didn’t have glass doors, but the front-loading dryers did. I spent some time inspecting the machines before using them, to ensure that I wasn’t going to be wasting my money.

The little door on top of the washing machine enclosing the compartments for detergent, bleach, and softener had me a little baffled. What if I put the detergent in the wrong compartment? How does the machine get the detergent from the compartment into the basin? Did I put in too much detergent? There are signs everywhere warning me of the dangers of using too much detergent; I didn’t bring a measuring cup to ensure that I’m only using a quarter of a cup, and all I’ve got with me is the scooper that comes in the box of Tide.

I was also concerned about why the dryer took only quarters and why there wasn’t a preset time setting. I mean, what if I didn’t put in enough quarters? I’d have to open the door, find out that my clothes are still wet, and then add more quarters. I shouldn’t be made to guess like this, I thought. We must be more advanced as a society. In fact, every other dryer that I can remember using has a preset setting for drying your clothes.

In the end, it all worked out. My clothes were sufficiently washed and dried. I enjoyed having the tables for folding, because it was much easier than trying to wrestle with mounds of clothes on my bed. And, for the short time that I was there, all I had to worry about was doing laundry, which, if you really think about it, is quiet simple. Besides, I would’ve felt childish if I’d been caught in the play area.

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