Posts Tagged ‘washer’

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.

Washing and Reading

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.

The Wonderful Washing Machine

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.


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.

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.

Laundered Money

January 5, 2011

I found four dollars in the washer. This has presented me with a dilemma.

It’s not 400 dollars, but it’s not nothing. If I lost four dollars I would miss it. Does the person who lost the four dollars wonder where it’s gone? I would return it, but how?

This is not like finding pennies on the sidewalk. They’re up for grabs as far as I can tell. Sometimes they’re dropped intentionally by people who treat them with disdain, if not contempt. Pennies add up if you collect them, but some people don’t seem to care.

If I found 400 pennies on the sidewalk would I feel conflicted about picking them up? Probably not, even though I’d notice them more: their weight, the metallic jangle they’d make in my pocket. They’d leave more of an impression than the four wrinkled, but freshly laundered dollar bills on my table waiting to be put to use. Then again, maybe not.

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.

The Cycle Not Taken

May 6, 2010

I don’t use the permanent press cycle on the washer. It runs warm, but not normal and not delicate. Beyond that, I’m not sure what it does or how long it does it. I could find out; do some research (one of my favorite occupations). Something prevents me from pursuing this.

I prefer it to remain a mystery: the button unpressed.

There’s always one, isn’t there? On a dashboard full of buttons, switches and levers, there’s one you’re supposed to avoid. (Maybe I’ve seen too many movies.) Usually it’s under glass, maybe under lock and key, certainly an ominous—yet strangely irresistible—shade of red. The permanent press button is none of those things. It looks just like the others on the washing machine touch pad.

It’s tempting, I’ll admit. Yet I resist.

What could it do? How could it be different from the others? Someday I might find out, but for now I’m content with hot, warm and cold, and one option yet to be explored.

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.