December 12, 2008

Laundromat Heaven

A few weeks ago I decided to change the comforter on our bed to my big, white, fluffy one--the one that doesn't fit in my washing machine. I grabbed the comforter and some detergent and headed to a new Magtag Laundromat* I had just discovered a few weeks before. I hadn't been in a Laundromat since my college days--a dim, dirty whole-in-the-wall place filled with grumpy people dressed in sweat pants and/or the last clean remnants of their closets.

I walked in after large automatic doors opened, as if I was entering a posh store. Inside were dozens of shiny new white machines illuminated by bright lights. There were huge LCD TVs hanging from the ceiling. There were benches, tables, and snack machines. There were smiling, happy people. Wow. Laundry heaven. I stood there, mouth agape, trying to figure out where to go when a guy walked up to me.

"First time here?" he asked.


"I could always tell. Whattya got there?" He peeked inside my laundry basket.

"Just a comforter," I said feeling somewhat inadequate for bringing such a humble load of clothes to such a nice Laundromat.

"Well, then use this one," he said while leading me to a washing machine. "It's large enough for that. Let me know if you need anything!" He smiled. What kind of Laundromat is this? I wondered. I would have had cleaner clothes in college if I had a place like this to go.

So I wandered over to the quarter machine by following the signs and got change. I came back and put $5 in the machine. Seemed pretty expensive, but Laundry God said I should use this machine and not the hundreds of other ones, so...

I put it in and pressed the button. A little window told me the cycle would take 19 minutes. Wow. Washing machines have come a long way since my college days. So I hung out for a while. I sat on a nearby bench for 11 minutes.

Then I noticed something in the washing machine window. I walked over and looked closely at my comforter. A dark stripe periodically flashed through the suds and water and it dawned on me: this wasn't the comforter I wanted to wash. I squatted where I was, looking into the window, trying to think of where I put the right comforter.


I looked up to see Laundry God's head surrounded by bright light. (Did I mention the Laundromat had nice lighting?) Then he laughed and laughed while a Laundry Apostle stood next to him. She laughed, too.

I realized how stupid I must have looked, mesmerized by spinning laundry like a cat following yarn.

"It's the wrong comforter," I tried to explain rattling off what seemed like random words in an attempt to appease Laundry God. "Stripe. Closet. White. Hurry. Wash."

So I returned with the right comforter the following day. No longer was I laundromat virgin. I walked in with purpose. (TVs? What TVs?) I knew where the change machine was and I headed right for it. I chose a different washing machine, not the anointed one--just because I could, so there--and put in my clothes. I smirked with confidence as I looked around for Laundry God. I needed to show him I knew how to wash laundry in his little Laundromat and that I didn't need his help. He obviously wouldn't have noticed me this time since I knew what I was doing...


I forgot detergent.

*Side note: Laundromat is always capitalized. When I worked as a copyeditor, I remember researching why it's capitalized (I thought it was a generic term and I think it looks stupid capitalized). The story is that it became a Copyright in the 1950's. Just thought I'd mention that.


Glenn said...

You got off cheap. I paid 7.50 to wash my comforter a couple months ago. It really sucks to put a ten in the change machine and spend four minutes putting quarters in the washer to get it started. I wondered whay they don't just have dollar eaters on the washers themselves?

Paige Jennifer said...

But at least you had good intentions? Yeah, I'd kick myself for flubbing that excursion, um, twice.

Jason Hughes said...


Was Laundromat God at least a hottie?

Mike HedzRed said...

I absolutely LOVED your Laundromat post! Just so happens, I was Googling why Laundromat is always capitalized and your humorous story finally brought closure to my many years of wondering why such a generic word would require a capital L. Thanks for the laughs and thanks for answering my perplexing question of at least the past 10 years!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the explanation on the capitalization of "Laundromat:" I kept wondering why my w.p program kept changing it. (Other similar brand names that have become part of popular lexicon - Kleenex, Realtor.) BUT, what I really wanted to say is - I love scummy old Laundromats. No better place to disappear and to observe humanity...and to find a wierd kind of zen peace. (And I aint no college kid!)