This morning I was awakened by a stream of white sun. From out my window, through the pale curtains, it burned my shut eyes. Ah Saturday. I could tell, even still under the covers, in the shelter of my bedroom, that it was the perfect day to be outside. A perfect day to enjoy the season. But… there was laundry. Heaps of it. No clean underthings, no clean socks, and my sheets had lost their crispness. Hands down, there was no choice. It simply had to be done.
My roommate tells me, as we’re in the kitchen chatting about the broken oven, that I can once again do my laundry in the building; the machines are back up and running. Great! I think. It’s cheaper than the laundromat down the block and more convenient of course.
Should I have expected that this would go smoothly? Why wouldn’t I? I wasn’t thinking of the card machines. ‘Insert another bill’, it tells me, after spitting the first one out– a weathered ten that felt close to the softness of a tissue. This being the only one I have, I huff and re-insert it. Rejected again. And then I iron it between my fingers, uncurling the bent corners, pulling it, and stretching it taut, as if this will restore its newness. It tears in half.
Of course, I have already put my clothes in each of the three washers. Thankfully, I had not yet poured in the soap. So, I go to the machines, pack my clothes back into my laundry bags, hoist them over my shoulders and head for the shop down the block. Despite the crowd, there are three machines, empty, waiting for me. In the middle of the line of them there’s a kid who’s mixed all his colors and whites in one. I chuckle and take one machine to the right of him and two to the left.
Now the way these laundromat machines work, you put your quarters in, put your soap in for the rinse cycle, wait seven minutes or so until the lavado/wash cycle begins and put another dose of soap in (and bleach if you’re using it). So I put the first round of soap in and then while waiting for the wash cycle to begin, I go to the folding table and start leafing through a magazine. And in the background there’s a crazy lady talking aloud to herself. She appears miffed at her chore of laundry that seems to have been put on her for the day. I get caught up listening to her rant:
Remember– she’s talking to herself!
“NOooooo. I didn’t have anything to do today. I LOOOOVE doing laundry. Take your time he tells me. Take your time! Ha. Right. Because I want to be here all day. I’ve been here two hours already. And fold ’em neat he says. Yeah you know I fold ’em neat. I don’t fold ’em any other way.”
And on and on this goes. So I’m not paying as much attention as I should be.
So after, in my estimation, the seven minutes have passed, I go back to my machines. I couldn’t not pay attention to the ranting woman, and obviously on this Saturday I couldn’t multi-task either. I go to the first of my three washers and pour round two of soap in. And then to the next and then the next. And then at the end of the line of machines I see through the window of one, my grey and white leopard-print pajama pants. They’re in with the rest of my lights, but there is no spinning, no water, no suds. And then I realize what I have done. I started up some else’s finished load, pouring in both rounds of soap. Then I poured round two soap into the load belonging to the kid who mixed all of his colors together. So after all of this I tended to only one of my own loads, and in the process, rewashed a perfect stranger’s.
Yes, yes, I managed to make it through the day without losing anything and thank God without any accidental bleaching (of my own things or anyone else’s). It could have indeed been worse. I did miss a good chunk of the sunshine and spent the day tearing up ten dollar bills and washing other peoples’ clothing. Really though, what is a better Saturday?