A strange combination of events led to a surprisingly pleasant Saturday.
As there was the need to wash laundry and a lack of functioning washing machines in my life last week, I decided to try and make the best of the situation. I called my visually impaired friend Peggy who’s back living in the Big City and also has no washing machines at her disposal. I suggested if she had some laundry in need of washing we make an outing of it. Seeing as she can’t drive, a trip to the laundromat involves either walking all her clothes and supplies a dozen blocks down the street to the nearest laundromat or taking a bus, she readily agreed to the free ride and companionship. We decided to meet at 9:30am yesterday and we planned to get brunch afterward.
The weirdness then commenced, but in the most surprisingly pleasant way. Normally I loathe laundromats. They seem counter-intuitive. Every one I’ve ever been in has either been filthy dirty or just so run down you wonder how any clothes actually get clean. And then, the cross-section of Americana I’ve seen there tends to provide little to re-assure me.
As Peggy has lived in the Big City for something like 7 years, most of which she was laundromat dependent, I asked her where she thought best to go, and followed her lead. But first she asked if we could stop at the Co-op because she needed laundry detergent and she preferred to buy the ecologically friendly kind sold there. I certainly had no problem with this pit stop, especially as we had to drive right past to get to the laundromat anyway.
While Peggy made her purchase, I stopped to ask about getting my own membership and found that it was surprisingly affordable and would give me more benefits than just membership there. Apparently there’s many other businesses in the Big City which give you discounts if you show your Co-op membership, several of which are places I already frequent. On top of that, being as I’m certifiably poor, I get an additional discount by flashing my poor person credentials. So, I happily bought a bunch of organic produce and left quite pleased.
We finally arrived at the laundromat, and while it was a little cleaner and in better repair than most laundromats of my previous experience, it didn’t take long for the host of weirdos to descend. As they began swapping stories of recent jail time and drug related charges, I distracted myself from their stench of illegal smoking substances and barely intelligible conversation by having a heart attack at the prices to wash and dry clothes.
I was going to do a white and a dark load of clothes, which would have cost $8.00, and drying would have been extra, at $2.25 for 45 minutes of drying time. I had bought a roll of quarters thinking one roll should be plenty, as the last time I had to use a laundromat it was $1 to wash and $0.75 to dry per load. Now I was worried I wouldn’t have enough. Peggy told me they had an exchange machine where I could always buy tokens for the laundry machines, but being a cheapskate and having just plunked down some cash for Co-op membership and knowing there was brunch to follow, my pocket book could be heard quietly whimpering in my handbag. So I combined my two loads, the horror of mingling together whites and darks be damned. It still cost $7.50 all told to do my one week’s worth of clothing and two towels. But, my one roll of quarters held the day with a few to spare.
Peggy and I took seats on the opposite end of the ‘mat from the weirdos so we’d have some privacy and I would be able to avoid staring at the appearance of an albino ferret on some woman’s shoulder, and settled in for a cozy girl chat while our laundry suds-ed, spun and tumbled dry. Near the end of our adventure, a normal-looking older gentleman began hovering next to us and looking right at us while we gabbed. So I stopped talking and looked at him. He continued to look back and I cautiously smiled.
He then said in somewhat of an embarrassed rush, “I’m not trying to hit on you, but do you come here often? Hahaha. I don’t, and last time I came I had a bunch of extra laundry tokens I bought out of the machine and I didn’t need all my tokens so I’ve had a bunch left from last time weighing down my pockets. I still have one left after today and I thought if you come here often you might be able to make better use of it.”
Peggy made a comment about not generally coming here very often and I said I’d never been before, but he already was trying to hand me a token. So, almost automatically, I took it from him. I noticed it said $1. So I said, “Oh, my, is this a dollar token?”
“Yes, but I don’t think I’ll be back and I don’t want to carry it around.”
“Well, I don’t usually have to use the laundromat myself, but my laundry machine just broke at home so I may need to come back after all.”
“Good then.” He said, “You’ll make use of it. I wasn’t trying to hit on you really.”
I smiled and laughed and said, “Oh, I understand. But we sure all got a good laugh out of it didn’t we? Thanks for the token. You have a great day.” And he laughed and said good bye.
Peggy and I looked at each other, and I stuck the token in my pocket book, and said, “Well, that was nice. A little strange, but nice.” It did occur to me that this was a pretty pleasant laundromat experience after all. I mean how often do you see albino ferrets and sweet old men give you dollar laundry tokens? He could have easily given it to the group of weirdos who looked more in need of charity than me and Peggy. Then again, I wouldn’t approach the weirdos if I could help it, either, no matter how charitable I felt.
By then our clothes were done and we began to pack up. That’s when I realized one of my socks had gone MIA. I checked all around the inside of the dryer, and the floor and the washer, but I think one of the weirdos had used the washer while our clothes were drying, so they might have ended up with a rogue sock. But, I was already thinking of brunch, besides, what could I do? It was just a sock, and if I wasn’t willing to approach the weirdos and offer them a free laundry token, I certainly wasn’t about to ask if they found my missing sock. Maybe I got that laundry token as compensation. Karma is funny that way.
So Peggy and I went off for brunch and on a lark we both decided to order Mimosas. They were a little stronger than I expected, but tasty. I got this delicious pecan pancake with maple Marscapone cream and a side of heavenly bacon. The place was a little busy so we had a while to wait for our food, but that was okay because we had Mimosas. We lingered a while after our food, too. Just because it was really relaxing and well, did I mention we had Mimosas?
After sitting there about an hour and a half the waitress came and asked if we’d like another Mimosa. I, having to be able to drive, declined, but I did say to Peggy that if I had to continue to do the laundromat thing for a while, I could get used to making a girls-day-out thing out of it. I mean, everything seems better through a gentle Mimosa haze.
When I felt I’d eaten enough and sat long enough to wear off any potentially compromising champagne, I took Peggy home. Then it was back to the place in town where I have my room, and that’s when I found out that the washing machine there was fixed. Apparently it was just that the socket had a surge protector fuze thing and it had been tripped. Once the handy roommate figured that out and reset the fuze in the outlet the machine was back in business.
So my expensive excursion to the Co-op, laundromat and brunch was pretty much for naught. Although I can’t complain because it was one of the most enjoyable Saturday mornings I’ve spent in quite a long while. And I now have a nifty $1 laundromat coin as a souvenir and I have a Co-op membership that will save me money going forward.
I guess if you look at it from a silver lining perspective, I should actually be grateful to the Universe for the twist of fate that caused both laundry machines to be out of order last week. Otherwise, I’d have never had such a wonderful day or such a bizarre and convoluted story to share.