Saturday, December 18, 2010

Washday Blues

This piece is coming to you from the Non-Creepy Laundromat in Hays, Kansas. Hays actually has two laundromats. One is down by the Student Ghetto of Fort Hays State University (home of the Tigers, another school celebrating an animal native to it’s environs just like the Pittsburg State Gorillas) and has been labeled by the natives who are advising me on washday destinations as Creepy. The Non-Creepy one is in the north part of town, where the hoi polloi…such as can be mustered in Hays (one hoi, two polloi)…dwells in placid isolation from the cares of student life. It’s a fairly nice place to spend an hour washing your scrubs, especially if you’re able (as I am) to work through the fact that it’s a Sunday evening of hunting season, and the parking lot is full a pickup trucks with gun racks and men washing their cammos clean of blood and feathers before they bring their outdoor gear into the house.

Anyway, this evening I’ve come to realize that the great paradox of the laundromat, and probably a money- making scheme in it’s own right, is that it’s hard to get stuff out of the washer to the dryer. Here’s what I mean. When you wash a load of clothing, things get tangled together, right? Pant legs get caught in the arms of shirts, socks get meshed inside of sweats, and the whole thing becomes a jumbled mess. It’s nearly impossible to extract one article of clothing from another. And it’s not like the washer and the dryer and next to each other like at home, so you can simply scoop stuff from one appliance to the other. At the laundromat, the washers and dryers and physically separated, washers along one wall, dryers on the other. So when you try to remove the wet and wadded ball of clothes from the washing machine and cart it the ten feet across the room, something invariably trails behind in the tendrils of fabric and falls to the floor.

If this is your floor, the floor at home that you’ve kept immaculaltely clean, or at least has your personal dirt on it, this is no problem. But this is a public floor, full of anonymous sticky stains of God knows what, into which your favorite pair DC Comic Heroes underwear had fallen, and now you have to think if you’re willing to put them in the dryer with all your nice clean non-floor contaminated clothes and get those sticky-old-soda-I-think-but-what-else-could-it-be-after-all-its-hunting-season germs on your other stuff, and then go ahead and wear them knowing that maybe-they’re full-of-disease-and-I’m-pretty-sure-the-dryer-isn’t-hot-enough-to-kill-the-plague, or buying another small box of detergent (75 cents, more for bleach), putting another three dollars in quarters into the washer, one more buck in the dryer, and killing another hour (and $1.25 for a Coke and a stale Lance Peanut Bar) in order to have pure underwear.

Well worth it, I say. Aquaman’s colors have never been so bright.

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