Posts Tagged ‘laundry room’

Making Assumptions

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.

Hot Hot Heat

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?


March 7, 2011

I lost a sock.

In the catalog of life’s disappointments this registers somewhere above breaking the point off a favorite pencil and far below stepping in gum. Yet, I am disappointed.

I liked the socks formerly known as a pair: brown and white striped body reaching just above the ankle and a solid brown heel and toe for accents. Although I’d owned them for years—possibly as many as ten—they were in good condition, their elastic still stretchy, their soles free of holes. I own many pairs of socks (probably more than I should, really) but I wore these frequently. Now they’re gone.

Well, not they exactly, but he…it…one. I couldn’t even say which, for socks are interchangeable in that way. First left, then right—the ultimate in apolitical. Socks don’t mind which feet they cover—not like shoes, which will tell you right off if you’ve put them on in a way they simply do not wish to be worn.

It would have been possible for a neighbor, upon finding my stray sock in the washer or dryer (for I do believe the sock disappeared in the laundry room) to tack it to the bulletin board beside the other matchless socks. I might have seen it there and taken it back. (It would be highly unlikely, but incredibly exciting, if my sock ended up here.)

But no one found my sock, or if someone did, he or she probably tossed it in the trash. I’m certain no one would have mistaken my sock for her own.

There will be other socks, but none quite like this one.

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.

Same Laundry, Different Place

September 2, 2010

Ever since the flood in my apartment at the end of May I have been displaced. Life and laundry have not been running as smoothly as I would like.

I should say at this point that my flood, which was caused by a water main break, is nowhere near as severe or devastating as a natural flood and its aftermath. Going through the ordeal of negotiating with insurance adjusters on this comparatively small and simple job, I can only imagine what it must be like for those affected by true disaster. The insurance industry is shameful, corrupt and disgracefully indifferent to its customers and its purpose. As we approach hurricane season, I’ll be viewing the news reports with a different perspective. This article by Bob Calandra for AARP Bulletin reflects much of what is wrong with homeowner’s insurance today.

Three months into the process of repair and restoration we are painfully far from completion. Still, the laundry must be done. And I consider it the one constant in my activities during this upheaval.

The laundry room in my temporary residence is not like the one at home. The washers are smaller and more expensive. The dryers, too, cost more and do not work as efficiently. But more important to me is the personality of the facility: It is clean and comfortable enough, but it is not a friendly place. No one speaks or even makes eye contact. The sense of community found in almost every laundry room I have visited is lacking here.

Laundry still helps to soothe me and make me feel whole and “normal,” but with each wash I do I realize how much the laundry room or the local launderette provides a sense of belonging—a sense of home.

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.

If Only I’d Paid Attention in Chemistry

April 18, 2010

Laundry is science.

I was not a good science student. It was only years—all right, decades—after my disastrous encounter with biology, followed by my utter demise at the hands of chemistry, that I even came close to appreciating how eminently practical and ubiquitous science is in our daily lives. Nowhere is this clearer than in the laundry room.

Which brings me to my recent error.

When Pandora visited the laundry room not too long ago, she came face-to-face with a washer full of suds. Her inconvenience and attendant dismay she blamed (in part) on high-efficiency detergents. But Pandora was wrong.

As a not-very-great man used to say, “Trust, but verify.” I trusted Pandora, and I did not verify; that was my mistake. You never know what you’re going to get from Pandora; she does not deliberately mislead, but she sometimes gets her facts twisted. Knowing this as I do, I was wrong to repeat what she’d said without checking it first.

Here then, a clarification:

High-efficiency detergents are efficient for three reasons:

First, they require substantially less water to do their job—from about one-third to more than two-thirds less water than traditional washers.

Second, they require less soap to achieve the same cleaning performance as traditional detergents. That’s why their compact bottles are fitted with compact caps designed to measure out just the right amount of soap for a load of laundry.

And third, they are designed to be low-sudsing because more suds does not equal more cleaning power. More suds simply equals more suds. (The Soap and Detergent Association would be thrilled if you looked all this stuff up on their website.)

The person who overloaded Pandora’s washer with detergent and left her to clean up the suds could have been any one of our neighbors. One thing is for certain though: It wasn’t a scientist.

If I’d paid attention in chemistry, I could have told Pandora that much. Thanks to the laundry room, I’m paying attention now.

We’re All Special in the Laundry Room

April 15, 2010

Laundry is the great equalizer.

Everyone has soiled underthings. Everyone has favorite garments that they wear when they’re alone (or with the ones who love them regardless) and that no amount of fraying, discoloration, holes or misshapenness can convince them to part with.

You might be gifted, beautiful, intelligent—all of the above. You might have been taught to believe you’re gifted, beautiful, intelligent… (You know, special.) Doesn’t matter; your sweat still stinks. Sooner or later your clothes must be washed.

Nothing is more ordinary than laundry.

We don’t cultivate the ordinary the way that we should. Instead, we strive to be special and, often, wind up frustrated when others don’t appear to recognize the specialness we see in ourselves. Maybe we would be happier and more satisfied if we nurtured our own ordinariness.

We wash our clothes because we don’t want to stand out; we don’t want to smell, don’t want to be stained. Laundry leaves us clean, unblemished, renewed.

What’s so special about one ordinary wash? Now you know.

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.