one of my coworkers grabbed a bunch of laundry supplies from the casa de ladymag free stuff table and realized she'd gotten a bunch of fabric softener and no detergent. since no one has room at home for three bottles of fabric softener, she offered some to me: "aw, no thanks," i said. "i don't do my own laundry." a chorus from the nearby cubes: ho ho ho, milady! doesn't do her own laundry! i tried to explain the sketchy laundromat situation near my apartment, and how joe and i only have a little time to go to the gym and eat and loaf after work and - no, too little too late. i'm the asshole who doesn't do her own laundry.

i loved (well, didn't mind) washing our stuff when we lived in san francisco: the missing sock just above us on hyde street tried pretty hard to be the nicest laundromat of all time (well lit, good magazines, fellow customers who didn't steal your stuff, little missing socks hand-painted on the floor tiles - really, it should have been neil patrick harris's laundromat in dr. horrible's sing-along blog). i had no problem holing up there with a book for a few hours at a time - i even felt comfortable making trips back to the apartment to drop off clean loads and bring down more dirty ones. doing laundry, in short, was sort of a joy.

laundry...is a different critter out here. we're within a few blocks of half a dozen laundromats, but none of them seem interested in my hands-on business: there are no chairs, tables, or aisles, really, and most of the washers and dryers at any given place are full of the laundry people have dropped off. if you're lucky enough to snag a machine, you guard it with your life until you're finished with it: unattended clothes are fair game. you don't snag a machine, though, because the laundromat wants you to surrender your bag and vamoose. and...i do, because i figure that after paying manhattan prices for detergent and dryer sheets and use of the machines, i wouldn't save all that much by washing my own underpants. if i factor in how much a few hours of my time are worth (mentally and literally), less-than-impressive ladymag salary or no, i wouldn't even break even by washing my own underpants. so i hand them over to a stranger, and after five years i have stopped feeling like marie antoinette. i wonder every now and again if the guys at the laundromat pay attention to what we give them ("ah, miss haphazard hot sauce is back!"), but i tip well, and i don't give them gross stuff: i don't lose sleep over it. i do lose sleep over the demise of our local, which went down suddenly while we were in california last month and caused laundry havoc on surrounding blocks (never did i think i would bond with a bartender over how delicately a third party folded our jeans). no one knows quite what happened to our guys (renovating? lost their lease, like our vet did on the same block last year? got sick of our underwear?), but i hope they're okay: they weren't the missing sock, but they were good neighbors.


wabes said...

just a little reality check here on your co-workers, because they sound like they have laundry in building. perchance even laundry in their apartment? perhaps live in a neighborhood that has not boomed full of people recently quite like yours?

i liked doing my own laundry in NY because you could take three machines at once and get 'er done if no one else was there, but i also hated finding my clothes half-dry on a table. having my own little petite machine in berlin has been a revelation, and not one i take for granted. you're a much better ms. haphazard hot sauce than marie antoinette, my dear. plus, your clothes come back in a MAGIC CUBE. i'd pay just for that.

lauren said...

oh, the gals weren't actually hating on me - more like teasing. i do think a lot of people have laundry in their buildings, but one of the photo gals lives two blocks south of us and sez there's a decent self-service place across the street from her (off the avenues). i will let her keep it - you're right, there is something about the MAGIC CUBE of clothing (i'll have to photograph it sometime) that's become charming over the years.

was your berlin machine one of those washer/dryer combos? we had one in our little carriage house suite in oxford: i think it wanted some sort of secret handshake that i never quite figured out. i'd like to figure it out, as that's probably the sort of machine i'll have someday (if i ever get to live in an apartment with clothes-laundering capabilities).

Meg said...

I had my laundry done in Brooklyn, for CHEAP. $9 normally, $15 for a HUGE load. Alas, there are no such rates here. We had it done once and I saw the price and freaked. Now we go to the adorable bay area style place around the corner. Owned by the cafe next door, so you can eat a chill if you want... bring a mag take a mag pile... Reiki posters, you know, the works.

Way before I started having my laundry done in Brooklyn (ah, making minimum wage in the recession) I used to dream about how much cooler it would be to sit in a laundrymat in say, Berkeley.

And, it is. Indeed.

(PS washer and dryer at home is my idea of having "made it." We'll make it one of these days)