Archive for the ‘We Meet Our Neighbors in the Laundry Room’ Category

Preemptive Laundry

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.

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Washing Smalls

February 14, 2011

I met Peanut’s grandpa in the laundry room today. He entered toting a giant collapsible hamper full of dirty wash and fed it all into the triple-loader.

“One little baby makes a lot of laundry,” I said.

He just smiled.

The smallest people in the house tend to be responsible for the most dirty clothes—and no one seems to mind.

Save Our Suds

January 10, 2011

It was a snowy Friday afternoon (optimum conditions for laundry) when I made my way to the laundry room with a load of delicates. Ideally, I should have been washing sheets and towels so that I could have enjoyed the added pleasure of folding warm terrycloth fresh from the dryer as I watched the fluffy, wet snow fall outside, but the whites weren’t due for a washing and the delicates were. So, down to the basement I went, laundry bag in one hand and Woolite in the other.

Who should I discover there but Pencil—so named because she’s skinny and angular, and in certain light the cast of her complexion is a vaguely unhealthy yellow. Pencil had the laundry room all to herself. And when I say all, I mean all: She’d commandeered all five washers.

Two possibilities could have occasioned this. 1) Pencil had sorted her laundry with scientific precision, using one washer for each of the four possible settings—Normal Hot, Normal Warm, Delicates Cold, and Permanent Press—plus the fifth double loader for blankets or other bulky items. Or, 2) Pencil had not done her laundry in a very, very long time.

I’m all for saving things: money, rubber bands, whales; but as I contemplate the tower of ironing on my chair, I’m not so sure that saving up your laundry is such a good idea.

Patience in the Laundry Room

May 14, 2010

Patience and Peace live down the hall from me, but I see Patience most often in the laundry room. Somehow our paths only seem to coincide on laundry days, even though they are not regularly scheduled events.

It happens like that sometimes. In a building with more than a hundred residents there are some you never see at all, some you see occasionally, some too often.

Patience is in charge of laundry for their household. It’s a rare thing when the man takes on laundry duty. I assume Peace does the cooking, or the cleaning or some other household chore. Maybe she just commandeers the TV remote, but I don’t believe so. Peace would want an equal division of labor.

Then again, you could say she took on more than her share of labor when she gave birth to Peanut this year. Peanut made Patience and Peace a trio, and my guess is that she now accounts for more laundry than either of her parents.

I don’t know if Patience wakes up for 2 a.m. feedings or if he walks the floor with Peanut when she cries, but I know he does her laundry. Peanut’s tiny pink outfits are soft and clean, and she always has something pretty and fresh to wear.

Peanut is loved. Laundry tells her so.

Punch is Punctual

April 14, 2010

Punch is on an organization kick, putting his finances and his life in order. He does his laundry like clockwork.

Punch won’t be the person who leaves his clothes in the dryer for thirty minutes after the cycle is complete. When Punch is in the laundry room with you, you’d best be punctual too.

Punctuality is an overlooked courtesy in a society in which “a flight is counted as on time if it operated less than fifteen minutes after the scheduled time” (says the U.S. Department of Transportation) and “a train is considered on time if it reaches its final destination within five minutes and fifty-nine seconds of its scheduled arrival time” (says the Long Island Rail Road). Boston’s MBTA sets its standard at four minutes and fifty-nine seconds, which only diminishes its on-time performance. Punch must find domestic travel an endless source of frustration.

I’d recommend Punch for U.S. Secretary of Transportation, or at least chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York. The trains would run on time and no one would put their feet on the seats. Punch wouldn’t permit it.

About ten minutes before my dryer cycle was going to finish, the phone rang. For a moment I considered letting the call go to voice mail. The dryers all were full and I knew Punch had his sheets in the washer. Instead, I answered the phone, talked for fifteen minutes, then hung up and bolted to the laundry room. By the time I got there, my laundry had been removed from the dryer and piled into one of the two laundry carts. Punch’s pink sheets were tumbling around in its place.

Punch sometimes has difficulty forgiving the failings of others. I hope he made an exception in my case.

Pandora Visits the Laundry Room

April 6, 2010

There was a minor kerfuffle involving suds in the laundry room the other day. Pandora was outraged.

Pandora is vigilant in her crusade against injustice, which takes many forms. You never know where it’s lurking; you must proceed with caution.

In this instance, injustice came in the form of soap suds spewing from the washers. Someone who’d used the washers before Pandora had overloaded them with detergent—too much for a single wash cycle to accommodate. There were traces of it in the soap dispenser when Pandora loaded her clothes into the washer. Nevertheless, she added more soap for her wash and the washing machine responded by producing more suds. Lots more suds.

Pandora had to wash her clothes a second time just to get rid of the suds. She said she ran them through three wash cycles and they still didn’t come out right. She blamed the machines. She blamed the company that maintains the machines. She blamed the manufacturers of the high-efficiency detergent that, she said, “everyone is using now” (everyone but Pandora). Someone had to be responsible for perpetrating this injustice.

I didn’t want to argue with Pandora so I nodded sympathetically and put my clothes into the washer for a cold delicate cycle. I wiped the soap residue from the dispenser before I started the washer. When the wash cycle was finished, there were no excess suds. I brought the clothes upstairs to hang dry. There might have been trouble lurking in the dryer. Why take the risk?

Pandora does not visit the laundry room often. When she does, it’s a memorable occasion.

You’ll Never Wash Alone

March 20, 2010

My mother,
Your mother
Hanging out the clothes.
My mother punched
Your mother in the nose.
What color was the blood?

That’s what is known as a counting-out rhyme—a way to determine who’s going to be “It” in a playground game of hide and seek. And despite the fact that it’s a little gross (which is the way kids tend to like things), it’s also sort of sweet (the first part, anyway). Can’t you just see my mother and your mother hanging out the clothes? All right, maybe not my mother and your mother because they don’t know each other, and frankly I can’t remember my mother ever hanging out the clothes; but somebody’s mothers out in the backyard pegging sheets and socks to the clothesline, gabbing, and apparently engaging in fisticuffs.

Laundry is social. At least that’s how it was traditionally, whether townswomen were gathering at their local water source to wash their clothes or meeting over the backyard fence with baskets full of wet duds. It still is social, if you happen to live in a dorm, an apartment, or another place where you don’t have your own washer and dryer. Then you’re compelled (let’s not say “forced”) to visit the communal laundry room or the neighborhood launderette where you’re likely to meet up with your neighbors and you might even make new friends.

I know a couple who have been married for more than 20 years and who first laid eyes on each other in the laundry room of their apartment building. It happens…hopefully more often than two moms punching each other in the nose.

Good or bad, laundry is a shared human experience. Everyone has a laundry story. Just ask them.

We Meet Our Neighbors in the Laundry Room

March 11, 2010

Pixie brings disinfectant wipes with her to the laundry room. This always seems like a good idea to me, but somehow I never remember to do it. Also, when I go to the laundry room I’m juggling a laundry bag, a bottle of detergent and a bottle of fabric softener. I can’t carry the wipes as well. Pixie brings her laundry downstairs in a laundry basket so it’s easier for her.

She wipes out the washers with the disinfectant before she loads her clothes. She even wipes out the laundry basket after she empties it. Pixie is conscientious.

I often meet her in the laundry room on Saturday morning. She never hogs all the machines and she comes downstairs promptly to collect her laundry when the cycle is finished. Pixie is considerate.

Even when she had a cat (it died a few years ago) Pixie never left the washers full of cat hair. She always wiped them clean when she was finished. This is a rare and valuable trait in a neighbor with whom one shares a laundry room. If you have ever shared a laundry room with pet owners you know this. Pixie understands.

Other neighbors are not like Pixie.

Pixie’s friend Polo lives with a dog and three cats. You don’t ever want to follow Polo in the laundry room.

I wish Polo learned as much from Pixie as I have.