On a lonely and mildly pathetic Saturday in Berkeley, I decided to embark on a mini-adventure to the local laundromat. The following is a true recounting of my experience that night, a tale that I offer with a warning label: “do not insert into ear canal.” In other words, “Beware the laundromat at night. Only the strong survive.”
8 P.M. Armed with my unwieldy pink hamper, a box of powder detergent, quarters, and reading materials, I enter the laundromat. I successfully load the clothes and send them on their way to the Land of Undirty. I sit down on one of a dozen empty benches and begin reading.
8:12 P.M. Homeless man on crazy drugs staggers into the laundromat and, despite the fact that there are at least ten empty benches in the place, plants himself as close to me as humanly possible. He proceeds to turn and stare at me. For no apparent reason, he begins laughing uncontrollably. I become slightly uncomfortable. And slightly offended.
8:13 P.M. Not amused, I opt to get away from Mr. Chuckles and proceed to stand next to the washing machine for the remainder of the wash.
8:20 P.M. I move clothes to the dryer. Woman with dredlocks next to me blows her nose into a t-shirt she just washed. I stifle gag reflex.
8:25 P.M. I watch the laundromat worker pull a huge wad of lint out of a massive lint trap. I consider the possibility of a sweater made of lint. Assuming that such a sweater would be possible to produce, I contemplate the fate of said sweater if washed and then placed into a dryer.
8:45 P.M. Aforementioned worker decides to mop the floor with sewage water. But only in front of the dryer I’m using. But, of course.
9:00 P.M. Clothes dry. En route from the dryer to my laundry hamper, socks and underwear fall in sewage water.
9:15 P.M. I arrive home, only to discover that my detergent has spilled all over my clothes and the inside of my trunk. I frantically shake every article of clothing to remove the white powder. I proceed to get detergent all over the floor of the apartment parking lot.
9:30 P.M. I roll up my jeans and carry water in a mixing bowl down to the parking lot so that I can clean the floor. I spill water all over my shirt. Still trying to de-powderize the trunk of my car, I lift up the flap of material that covers the spare tire in my trunk. Detergent flies from the trunk into my face and my mouth. I foam at the mouth.
9:45 P.M. I return to my apartment, disheartened and flustered. With my sudsy mouth, wet shirt, and rolled pants, I look like a rabid, lactating pirate.
The outcome: my clothes are not as clean as I would like them to be, my “clean” underwear feel like a bathing suit after a day at the beach when the sand rides up your buttcrack, and I have lost all dignity. The moral: do your laundry during the day, use liquid detergent, and eat your vegetables. That’s all I ask of you.