Yesterday was laundry day for me, and I planned accordingly; leaving our apartment at just a few minutes past 7AM to beat the crowd.
I usually go on Saturdays, but I couldn’t get it together to get out the door early enough so I bagged it till yesterday. I gathered all the dirty laundry not already in the laundry bag, got out the 2 sheets of bounce and the zip-loc filled with tide and set off down 5 flights of stairs with roughly 25 pounds of laundry, about ten pounds more than average. What a difference a day makes.
When I got to the laundry on Broadway it was just past 7:15 and there were still machines available. There was no one there except for the proprietor, a Chinese fellow in his 30s. I selected two machines, one for whites and one for colors, and started sorting. A lot of the other machines were in use; the guy was doing the drop-off laundry. As I was loading my machines another man walked in, he emptied one of the small machines and proceeded to load a dryer. He’d beat me to the laundry, the first one in apparently.
Then another guy walked in, a young Latino fellow. He took the one machine available next to one I was loading, and wanted the one on the other side of my machines, and I got annoyed that he insisted on pushing past me to get at the one in the corner. I was also annoyed that he might be my competition for the one seven-foot long folding table in the whole place.
I must backtrack to describe the laundry, a barely 400 square-foot storefront with probably 14 machines; ten small, two large and two jumbo. There are 14 dryers as well against the opposite wall. The floor trembles when one or more washers are in spin cycle and I keep waiting for the day when it will collapse entirely.
It is small enough that there is always competition for machines, and the folding table, of course.
I try to avoid Saturdays there because once a month two women show up with a caravan of shopping carts piled high with black plastic garbage bags filled with laundry. They hog every available machine, putting as few as three items into a single machine. And of course it takes a couple of hours for them to fold what seems like a hundred pounds of laundry. They must either have a hundred kids between them or are doing laundry for a bunch of families for money. Either way my blood pressure rises when I lay eyes on them. One of the reasons I opted to wait for Sunday this week.
When I wasn’t working regularly I would do the laundry Friday morning, it was the best time as there was no one else there. But I went the Friday after Thanksgiving because I was off from work. I went around 9AM figuring it would be empty, but I didn’t figure on the laundry’s latest employee.
I remembered seeing signs in the laundry looking for a worker, and they’d hired a young Latino woman to wash and fold the drop off laundry. Using the folding table was out, and I had to content myself with folding my stuff on one of the three wooden chairs they have in the laundry. The Chinese couple that owns the laundry fold on a little table they have up front where they sit with the cash register and the supplies they have for sale, but the worker has to use the table, seeing as how the front is where the money’s at. I realized that if I wanted to get two machines at the same time, and an empty folding table I was going to have to get there as early as possible, no matter what day I go.
That’s why I got up early Saturday.
When I was married to my first wife we would do the laundry when we ran out of clothing to wear, and even after we had a kid it was a once every couple of weeks affair. Of course then that meant it was a lot of clothing, and a lot of time.
We would load the machines and wait till they were done, and then dry in as many dryers as possible to get out of there faster. That’s when the Cuban lady that ran the laundry in Greenpoint where we lived at the time showed me that putting all of the laundry in one machine for an hour would work just as well. Cheaper, actually. She also taught me how to fold fitted sheets with elastic on them. I used to just sort of ball them up but she showed me how to put two corners into one hand and then tuck them all together. It was like magic, and I’ve been doing it ever since. I also fold the socks the way my mom taught me when I was a kid.
My preferred method of doing laundry since I became single and then remarried is to put the laundry into the washers, go back home till it’s done, then return to put the laundry into the dryer for an hour and either go back home again or do some local shopping. It works pretty well, and I don’t have the stress of trying to beat somebody to the folding table, something that was the cause of a lot of anxiety in Greenpoint. And after, as well if I’m to be honest.
Now I just hope the table will be free, and by going early my chances are better for that to happen, or I fold on the chair. Not happy about that, but it will have to do at times.
I watch other people do their laundry, like the woman Saturday who had to push past me five times as I was folding (I got the table) to fill her empty liquid detergent container with water and pour it into the machine, I don’t know why she did that but I’ve seen others do it as well. My favorite is the single guys who simply stuff their unfolded clothing into plastic shopping bags directly from the dryers.
When I first started doing laundry here I left my laundry bag on top of the machine while I went home, and when I came back it was gone. There was a middle-aged woman doing laundry, the only other person there. I asked the Chinese woman if she’d seen the bag, a green nylon affair I’ve had for years. She went to her computer and pulled up the security video, but then I spotted the bag at the bottom of the other woman’s black-bagged lined shopping cart.
I reached in and pulled it out. I held it up to her face accusingly.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought it was mine,” she offered. Yeah, right. Now I take everything with me and bring it back when I go to fold.
If you have a laundry bag, you wouldn’t need to carry your laundry in black garbage bags.