A Day At The Laundromat

Yes we have these in Canada, public places to do your laundry. It can be quite a mission, to pack up your laundry basket in order to bring them to the laundromat, but there are positives here. For one, it takes less time because there are many machines plus they come in different sizes, and it’s a time for meditation. So I have gotten used to this routine.

The negatives though has to do with the kinds of people you meet. At one point, the laundromat I used to attend had owners that would tell me how I need to do my laundry and demand me not to waste time as other people need to use the machines. It’s my fault though, I went on a busy Saturday afternoon. Since that day, I walked out of the laundromat and went to another just down the street. This one was tranquil- no noise, no commotion, and no crowds. If I get nothing more from doing my laundry, I get an opportunity to meditate and think of my blessings. You can now imagine my frustration when even this one positive is tampered with.

Today, after a busy day driving around the city running errands, my final stop was at the laundromat. I parked at the back entrance and as I usually do, I first enter with my paper money and insert it in the change machine. This comes with the many years of experience of bringing in all my laundry and upon attempting to get change- there is none. So I return the laundry to the car and locate a store nearby to obtain smaller change. I know better now. In any event, on this very hot day, I retrieve some change for my $5 bill. Thankfully I had one, because when I then attempted to insert the new $20 bill, the machine wouldn’t read it! “Is that a new bill” a woman asked while folding her clothes. I nod my head as I walked in her direction. “Yea, the machine doesn’t take those” the same woman said. I smiled and passed her to enter out the same back door, now pulling a trolley outside. “Don’t take the trolley outside” the woman said. My back is towards her now and I’m stepping outside. I think about what she says…Is she the owner or something? I know the man that owns it so clearly she can’t be…can she? “Why?” I asked. “The wheels get damaged when you take it outside” she responded. …Why does she care? Why is she telling me what to do? Isn’t this the reason there are trolleys in the first place? So you can easily take your clothes from your car to the room and back. I looked at the wheels on the trolley and noticed they were wobbly. I guess she does have a point. I proceeded to my car to obtain my baskets of laundry and placed it in the trolley waiting for me at the door and I pushed it to my designated machines I usually use. This time, I don’t make any eye contact with this woman. I’m not interested in her company. I placed my clothes and bed linens inside the washing machine sorting them by colours. I see the same woman come over to where I’m standing and I looked at her. Why is she standing there? She probably read my facial expression, ” I just need to empty my clothes, but I’ll wait until you’re through” I looked over at the same machine beside me earlier and noticed the clothes weren’t spinning so I pressed the start button for it to continue. This was the machine she was now waiting for. “Oh it’s not done yet” She remarked and then moved on to folding the rest of her clothes. When I was done sorting, I inserted the necessary coins in the machine. This alone took all of 5 minutes because the coins would come right out of the slot every time I inserted it. I tried pushing the coin fast so it would fall the right away, other times I tried placing it slowly and still other times I used different coins until finally the machine accepted them and started to work. I was about to walk away when the woman who was now removing her clothes from the machine said, “You wanna know a secret?” My ears piped up and she had my full attentionI looked in her direction without saying anything, simply waiting to hear the juicy secret, some hidden tip about how to get my money’s worth. Or better yet, a way to get money from the machine! She looked at me and said, “You don’t have to slam the machine doors, you can close it like this” And I watched her close the machine door. If I’m not careful I will really say something to this woman I might regret. I walked off through the back doors without a word.

You meet all kinds of personalities at the laundromat and while I understand I need to be respectful to all people and be kind, sometimes it’s a hard thing to do. A few weeks before this experience another woman appeared to be demanding me to talk to her. And when I didn’t she asked if I was shy. Why can’t I use my words? She wanted to know.

Today, I simply spent the time waiting inside my car. It was a hot day so I walked across the street to purchase a refreshing slushy to cool me from the heat. I timed the machines going back to check periodically to see when the load was done. Normally, as part of my meditation and relaxation I would stand there and fold every piece of clothing and neatly placed them in my basket, but not this day. Instead, I pulled my load and threw them in my basket hoping to get out as soon as possible. When I finished I was ready to walk passed the woman who was now with a man, folding sheets. I stopped next to him waiting for him to allow me to pass. “Could you wait please, these sheets are really long” He said. Oh my gosh!! At this point I walked back to grab my second basket and decided to make one trip instead of two. I never want to see these people again! I watched the man fold the sheet with his wife, both holding separate ends. When they were done, I quickly zipped pass them dashed my clean baskets of laundry in the trunk of my car and sped off. That was the end of that! I’ll go early in the mornings now to avoid people at all cost.

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