September 21, 2011
I found a sock in the laundry room.
It was a woman’s sock, ankle high with a black and white argyle pattern. I found it wet and clinging to the inside of the washer when I started to load my clothes in.
Naturally I removed it. Then I contemplated what to do next.
Two of the dryers were engaged. Was it possible that this lone sock belonged in one of them—that its mate was tumbling dry alone?
Yes, I thought it was possible.
Should I open one of the dryer doors and toss in the sock? That would be easy to do. The sock’s owner would be none the wiser. In fact, putting the stray sock in the dryer might be a good deed. Unless…
…Unless I picked the wrong dryer.
It was possible that the sock belonged to the person whose clothes were in the dryer. It might even be likely. But it wasn’t certain.
If my assumption turned out to be incorrect, I would have made things worse not better.
I placed the wet sock on the folding table in the laundry room, finished loading my clothes into the washer, started the wash cycle and left.
When I returned to fetch my clothes from the washer, all the dryers were empty and the argyle sock was gone.
Did the person who picked up the sock also empty the dryers?
It’s possible. It might even be likely. But I’m not prepared to make that assumption.
September 9, 2011
This morning I used all of the dryers in my laundry room. That troubles me.
There was a reason for my profligate drying: I’d washed sheets, towels and blankets, and they required a good long tumble to dry.
Normally I would have tried to pile them into a single dryer. I’m not the sort of person who believes items that must be washed separately also must be dried separately. I’ll toss my blue dishtowels into the dryer with my white socks and sheets. No harm done.
Yet, I’ve learned from past experience that piling more than one wash-load of sheets, towels and blankets (plus socks and underwear) into a single dryer is imprudent. Overloading the dryer causes it to become unbalanced. The dryer won’t work when it’s unbalanced.
So I used all of the dryers—there are only three, but still—and I created another sort of imbalance: I took more than my share.
The laundry room has always been a test of one’s sense of entitlement. People who arrive dragging behind them six weeks’ worth of fetid apparel and accoutrements, then expect everyone to step aside while they commandeer all of the washers and dryers, don’t make many friends in the laundry room.
The machines are for everyone’s use. We share them and sometimes we use them concurrently. It’s up to us to make sure that we don’t use more than we really need; that we save some space for others so everyone has a fair share.
Unless there’s balance, things won’t run smoothly.
August 16, 2011
What have we learned?
Guests came to stay and now I’m washing their laundry. Well, not their laundry precisely, but the laundry left here after they departed: three times my usual load of sheets, pillowcases and towels. Plus socks and underwear—ours, not theirs—because they required a hot-water wash and this was a big one.
If you consider laundry to be drudgery, the thought of washing things soiled by others would only add to your displeasure. I don’t see things that way. Providing overnight guests with clean sheets and towels, and a comfortable place to use them, is part of my role as a host. I wouldn’t object to preparing and serving a meal for company, nor to cleaning up afterward. Why should laundry be different?
Laundry says you’re welcome. The sheets will be clean for you anytime you want to come and stay.
August 5, 2011
An actress with a significant coolness quotient now stars in television commercials for a laundry product. Presumably her presence in these ads was an attempt to make doing laundry appear to be more cool. The manufacturers needn’t have bothered.
Laundry is inherently cool.
What constitutes coolness?
Independence – Laundry is a graphic representation of independence, of the ability to take care of one’s own needs.
Control – Laundry places you firmly and unquestionably in control. Who else makes the decision of when, where and how the wash will be done?
Superiority – Doing laundry for others who can’t or won’t do it for themselves reinforces the fact that you’re in charge. Where would those people be without you? Wherever it is, they’d be there naked.
A relaxed and confident attitude – Laundry is relaxing, if you allow it to be. It’s certainly not a cause for stress. It is one task that should not make you feel fearful, hesitant or insecure. It won’t harm you or defeat you. And nothing boosts confidence like a pile of freshly laundered clothes.
On my washing machine there are temperature settings for Hot, Warm and Cold.
There is no setting for Cool.
Laundry doesn’t require one.
July 27, 2011
I’ve been thinking about the time we save by washing our clothes in washing machines versus hand-washing, scrubbing on a washboard or beating them against a rock (I guess).
Hans Rosling says that when his mother bought her first washing machine she used the time she would have spent washing clothes by hand to read to him, and to read books for her own pleasure as well. Imagine! Time to savor a novel or to learn something new.
One neighbor of mine, whom I’ll call Poppy, studied for her law school exams in the laundry room. The washers and dryers created a pleasing hum that drowned out distractions and allowed her to concentrate on her reading. Down in the basement she would be left alone, and the bright lights of the laundry room kept her awake and focused.
How many people wash and read these days?
Cover Spy occasionally catches people in the act of washing and reading, like the 20-something guy reading Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot in a Brooklyn laundromat a week or so ago.
It’s a gift, isn’t it? All that free time. We should use it wisely.
July 20, 2011
I’ve been captivated by this video of Hans Rosling, a professor of global health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, singing the praises of the washing machine.
Who knew that the humble washer had such far-reaching influence on society? For while people concerned with the state of the environment would willingly give up their cars (or at least use them less often), who among us would surrender her washing machine for a tub and washboard?
Next time I do the laundry (which should be this afternoon) I’ll do it with pride and respect.
July 12, 2011
I met up with Punch in the laundry room. He told me he hadn’t done the wash in a long time and it was piling up. That’s unusual for Punch, who’s diligent about the wash, but sometimes life intercedes and laundry doesn’t have the priority it should. This I know from personal experience.
It’s been a busy time here and things have fallen by the wayside, including this blog. That’s not to say I haven’t been keeping up with the whites and the colors and the delicates. I have; but I haven’t had time to reflect on what it all means. The globe keeps spinning, and so does the dryer. That is what I know.
Punch and I were doing preemptive laundry, clearing out the stragglers from the bottom of the hamper. We weren’t catching up; we were moving ahead, anticipating the future and preparing for it.
There will be more dirty clothes. Punch and I are ready for them.
June 1, 2011
Outdoors the temperature is creeping toward 90 degrees. In the laundry room I’m preparing to wash a load of cotton sweaters (delicate cycle-cold water). They look to be the last sweaters of the season, but nothing is certain. I wore them last week when the temperature hovered below 60. Today I’m sweltering in shorts and a T-shirt.
It’s disconcerting when the laundry is out of sync with the weather to such an extent. Best to do it all and be prepared. So, along with the sweaters in the delicate cycle I’ll toss in a couple of sleeveless tops.
Who knows what we’ll be wearing next week?
April 14, 2011
I usually try to make laundry the first task of the day. That way, even if I can’t manage to motivate myself to tackle anything else on my to-do list, at least I’ve washed the clothes.
Then, the other day, I wound up in the laundry room in the afternoon and it made me think…
I’ve never been a morning person. The afternoon always was my time—the best time—especially when I was a kid. Back then, morning meant waking up early for school (and nothing good could ever come of that). Afternoon was a time of release—full of promise and freedom. In the afternoon my time was my own, and I could choose whether I went outdoors to play or plopped myself in front of the TV.
When did doing tasks in the morning trick me into feeling virtuous? When did the arrival of afternoon bring reproach, reminding me of all the tasks I have yet to complete before the day ends? When did I begin to see things from the opposite side?
Sometimes I need to remind myself that I can choose what I do in the morning and in the afternoon. This afternoon, I choose to do laundry.