If you are used to doing your laundry at home…. going to a laundromat is an opportunity for feeling completely inept in public. Its kind of like being in a different country… different language, etiquette and culture.
The first thing you notice is that there are a variety of machines. They hold anywhere from double loads to, well, apparently half of your entire wardrobe. So you choose, what you think is the right one and begin loading it full…. how full? What is too full, what is not full enough so you look like a newbie and yes people are covertly watching. Then you get out your soap and softener and wonder what goes in where? The choice of cycles or water temperature is fairly normal, but now we get to the coins. The question is not just how much each of these different machines take, but how the coins have to be lined up to work…. looney, quarter, quarter, looney, looney….hmmmm whoever thought of that needed more to do with their time.
The wonderful thing about a laundromat is that while you are standing there feeling really really stupid, there are other people around either waiting for their laundry or playing keno. If you just ask a question into the air, someone will answer you. It’s kind of like magic… you don’t really even need to aim the question at anyone… just ask it. Like a magic 8 ball. Very cool. Then everyone goes back to the unspoken ‘don’t visit’ rule. So while you all wait for your laundry to be done, you read, or play Keno. I’m usually just so thankful for an internet signal, I’m ordering books on my kindle like a 2 year old running free in a candy store.
Now when it comes to folding laundry, there is a definite ‘do not stare’ rule. If someone breaks it, the whole system goes down in flames. No one wants to fold their underwear and have some old man watching… and yes this does happen. It can break you!
When laundry sorting and folding are underway, keep your eyes down and to yourself! You don’t want anyone noticing your overly large bras or your husbands stained undergarments. And especially, you do not want someone noticing that the whites you just pulled out of the wash / dry even after you added bleach, are still far from white, grungy and stained because you have been living in a construction zone for months... and yes, you do need to scrub your feet with those once upon a time white wash cloths before you climb into bed. Because if you don’t, you will be right back here at the Laundromat even more often washing sheets, towels and bath mats. I don't’ even want to talk about my husbands socks which are a deep beige now. I think the bleach is actually working like a dye setting agent. I really just add it now because it makes me feel like I’m being a better wife. Bleach is good right? Doesn’t really work, but I’ll probably keep doing it.
But the most important thing to remember, is that when someone else comes into the laundromat for the first time…. answer those questions that come floating across the room from the new person. They may be a Dr or Lawyer on a camping vacation, maybe a Physicist, but they too are feeling really inept right now. Have pity on them the way the magic 8 ball had pity on you. :). (picture below is Jed, my laundromat partner)