Blame it on the king-sized comforter. And the cat. And the hairball the cat deposited on the king-sized comforter. I am in the laundromat today, because this comforter does not fit in my washing machine.
I have my quarters, my legal pad and pen (low-tech companionship that works everywhere) and my digital notepad (high-tech companionship that doesn’t), and have 90 minutes to be creative and thoughtful.
My local laundromat is as low-tech as my legal pad and pen: an off-white, square room, glass-front store in a strip shopping center. Washers to the left, dryers to the right, a narrow path crowded with folding tables and wheeled carts. Soda, snack, video and game machines crowd a corner near the blue plastic tables and chairs. Tan tiled floors in need of a little TLC. A booth up front for the tiny, rail-thin attendant, who never sits there. She’s darting from washer to dryer to folding table to supply shelf, texting or talking while sorting, folding, filling and emptying machines, tagging orders and stacking clean clothes, towels and sheets for those who cannot, will not or lack the ability or time to do this chore themselves. I notice the booth’s top two shelves are filled with rolled and trash-bagged comforters, done for clients who drive by, drop them off and get them back in exchange for no hassle and about $25.
My local laundromat lacks the cool vibe of some newer ones, tucked inside restaurants, bars and bowling alleys, where your duds suds while you sip a craft beer, down a gourmet burger or groan about your gutter balls. But it does have character, a long history of service (it has outlasted everything else in the shopping center) and it gives customers what they need: clean clothes to face the day.
Laundromats are necessary in a tidy America, even as their numbers decline, thanks to affordable home washer/dryer systems that fit in even the smallest apartments, rising real estate values, repair costs and laundry wash-and-delivery services. It’s not the meeting place it once was, but if your pricey washer or dryer break down, or you have a hairballed king comforter, you’ll be glad to know one is still around.