The Politics of Communal Laundry

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


And now a post about the politics of sharing a laundry room with people you don't know. Perhaps some of you can relate to it, or perhaps you will have no idea what I'm talking about if you've never lived in a city, or are just lucky enough to be independently wealthy.

Whatever the case, it must be discussed.

Let me set the scene for you. It's Monday morning and I have two loads of wash to do; towels and sheets for the guest room because my parents are coming to stay.  I begrudgingly go to Trader Joes to get my roll of quarters, cursing the entire time that "why the hell can't our laundry units join the modern world and be hooked up to a card reader like every other damn laundry unit."

We've lived in our place for 2.5 years now, one would think I've accepted our quarter situation. And yet I haven't. Of course our washing machine can't take a card, it was manufactured in 1807. Occasionally it gets so out of control I have to physically stand on it to keep it from traveling to the back of the basement where the gremlins live.

But I digress.

I choose to do my laundry on a Monday morning because I know I have no shot on a Sunday. If you're not down there claiming a machine by 10 a.m. you are SOL, my friends.

And so I go down there and open washer machine #1- the good one, the one that doesn't do somersaults around the dungeon if you put one too many towels in there, and what do I see? A load of semi wet clothes.

Have they been in there an hour? Two? Four? I don't know. And thus begins the politics of the laundry game.

Having been a laundry sharer for five years now, I know what I have to do. And that's go back upstairs and wait it out (whether it's 10 min or 2 hours, it's just a polite gesture.) You can leap a person in the laundry game, but never on the first try. You have to at least get them once shot to switch it out because what if their cycle just ended?

But before I go back upstairs, I leave my basket of laundry on the communal table. 1. Because I'm lazy. and 2. because it's a sign to fellow washers that says "I'm on your back....." *but never leave your laundry soap. Unless you're a millionaire and can just afford to give away free soap.

I only give them thirty minutes because I don't have time to dick around today. When I go back down, the clothes are still in the washer.

At this point I have to move stranger laundry into the dryer and learn way too much about a person I don't know. I may not know the new guy on the third floor who moved in two months ago, but I know what kind of underwear he wears...

When you're moving stranger laundry it's crucial you do it AS FAST AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN. God forbid they walk in during the midst of your laundry jump. Other than getting mugged on the train, this is my number one Chicago fear. I would die if the upstairs people saw me touching their wet laundry. Die die die.

I put stranger clothes in the dryer, but don't start it obviously. First of all, I don't want to shrink their shit. But more importantly, I don't want to waste $2 in quarters! If I was made of quarters, I wouldn't be in this situation in the first place.

40 minutes later my wash is done and I see their wet clothes still sitting in the dryer. So what do I do? Move that shit back to the washer. And suddenly I feel excited that I'm about to do a full laundry leap- washer AND dryer. I feel validated in my decision to skip them when I did, had I waited, I'd still be waiting- you know?

One hour later my dryer is done. The wet clothes still remain in the washer. Has the other person stopped down even once to move them in the past hour? I shall never know. But now I present to you the age old question, who's the asshole in the laundry situation?

1. The Mover.
2. Or The Sitter.

Am I rude for jumping out of turn? Or is the other person rude for taking their sweet ass time?

Someone's communal laundry habits say a lot about them as a person in general, I think. For example, I know I can get kind of pushy and should settle down and take a chill pill. But also, I don't like to keep people waiting and expect from others what I expect from myself.

And this concludes the most wonderfully self indulgent post about laundry that I have ever written. I truly enjoyed it. I hope you did, as well.


28 comments:

  1. Definitely the sitter. We have community laundry rooms in college and I despised the people that kept the washer or dryer full with their wet clothes all day. I mean, if you don't have time to go back down and move them then wait to do your damn laundry. LOL

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  2. The sitter. You (the mover) could've been douchey and just put his clothes on the table or floor, but just moving them from the washer to the dryer and back, that's actually pretty considerate considering he wasn't watching the clock.

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  3. The sitter. It is always the sitter. I haven't had to deal with communal laundry since college, but it was so out of hand that my dorm created a channel on our cable package dedicated to LIVE STREAMING THE LAUNDRY ROOM. Do you even know how much fun that was to watch? Of course, it was borderline porn at 2am...

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  4. The sitter is at fault! When you have to share a laundry facility, you should know about how long it takes to run the cycles so you can keep it moving. You did the right thing! I'm sure there are plenty of rude people who would have thrown it on the floor or who knows what to their laundry. And most likely, they never will have known that you even did your laundry.

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  5. I had shared laundry in college, it was the worst! But I also would move people's laundry..usually onto the top of the washer so you're extra nice! Then I found a homeless man living in our laundry dungeon and never went down there again..

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  6. I hated the "sitters" in the laundry room in college. It's disrespectful of other's time. But I'm also OCD about other people touching my stuff so I'd rather just take care of my laundry all at once like you. It got so bad that I'd either go to a laundromat or take my laundry home on the weekends!

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  7. I've never had to use a communal laundry situation, but that is just plain rude of them! And would it have been horrible for you to put their wet laundry on the table? I mean. Sorry bout ya luck!

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  9. I can't stop laughing! Sitters are the worst and I've done exactly what you did which is probably why I'm laughing so hard I have tears in my eyes. I set my alarm so that I'm never holding anyone up and expect others to do the same!

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  10. I FEEL YOU!!!!! OMG nine years of shared laundry with SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE it was the fucking WORST. You know what I'm STILL MAD about a DECADE LATER?? I got these awesome cushy sweet-ass towels on my own money, and some fuckhead used bleach on their last load and I got bleach spots all over my BRAND NEW TOWELS!!!

    I only got rid of said towels (aka donated them to the animal shelter because clearly dogs and cats are more mature than I am and don't care about that shit) like a few months ago.

    SO MAD.

    COMMUNAL LAUNDRY IS THE WORST.

    I feel for you, I really do.

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  11. Oh, and I got caught being a "mover" once. Except the guy was standing RIGHT THERE. I don't know what his background was, but his laundry was all like, wrap-around garments and stuff - and I thought they were sheets or something. You can't BELIEVE the nasty looks I got. It was terrible.

    UGH I COULD TALK FOREVER ON THIS.

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  12. Reading these comments is cracking me up. I had to post a follow-up.......when I was the "mover" I did not move to dryer then back to washer. That shit was put on top of the washer and left there.......not interested in touching strangers wet laundry anymore than absolutely necessary! Hahahaha

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  13. I don't miss those days at all! Hopefully your new place will save you from the crazy.

    p.s. your header is doing something weird. probably just my screen but thought i'd mention it!

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  14. Love this post! I too understand the politics involved of a shared laundry facility- it should really be a talking point on the presidential debate.

    Www.bloomingyogi.com

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  15. I definitely enjoyed this. I had an apartment once with it's own laundry and it was phenomenal. And then I moved into an apartment complex where I shared with an unknown amount of people. HELL ON EARTH. I am for sure the mover. I ain't got time to wait for you to sort your stuff out.

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  16. Oh girl, you were not in the wrong. When we lived in New York there were four washers and four dryers in our communal laundry space (which was a blessing in itself, for serious.) Two of the washers were out of order at the same time and some genius decided they needed to put their clothes in the remaining two on a Friday night and then leave the building to go do Friday night things. I spent my entire Friday evening going up and down the elevators, checking to see if I could do my laundry yet because I had to go out of town early the next morning. I finally pulled the switch, and I've never felt guilty about it.

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  17. LOL omg Taylor -- I completely 100% get this post. I'm 28 and have lived in Switzerland for the past 13 years and I've ONLY known this kind of laundry situation my whole adult life (it's very common here to live in an apartment and to share a laundry room). I had one incident where I fought with a senior citizen about laundry (WHY IS HE DOING LAUNDRY ON THE WEEKEND WHEN HE HAS TIME EVERY FREAKIN DAY TO DO IT - UGH). And yes, I absolutely hate it when strangers move my wet clothes. But if someone leaves their wet clothes laying there for more than I dunno, 20 minutes, then I think you have the right to move them. But ya, I'm praying that I will one day be blessed with my own washer and dryer. (And, the building I live in now doesn't have a room to hang and dry clothing so I have to hang all my pants and tops in my ONE ROOM APARTMENT lol -- good times). xx

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  18. This is completely beside the point, but, where are those lounger pants from, in your picture!? They look sooo cozy and I feel I need them in my life.

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  19. Gurrrrlllllll do I hear ya! High five! Sharing laundry rooms suck. The sitter is the rude one. You can't do that when you share. If you are lucky enough to have in your house/apt/townhome laundry facitilies, you can let that shit sit as long as you want. But not when you share. I could write a whole book on laundry sharing. Quarters are the absolute worst.

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  20. Communal laundry rooms (and public washaterias) are the WORST. It was a monumental day when I got my very own washer & dryer! Such a luxury to be able to do laundry at 3:00 a.m., if you want, in the comfort of your own home.

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  21. I say The Sitter is to blame in this situation, for sure. If you have laundry down there, you need to be on top of that shit because you are sharing those machines with many other people. Don't be a dick, Sitter Person! You go girl, I applaude you for your movement of the stranger's laundry. :)

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  22. Girl. One time in college I politely moved someone's laundry out of the washer when there were no other machines available into one of those metal rolling baskets and put my wet clothes in the dryer. As a RESPONSIBLE PERSON, I set an alarm for when my clothes would be dry...not that this mattered because that petty ho stopped my dry cycle and pulled all my clothes out of the dryer so that they fell to the floor soaking wet. And stole a t-shirt.
    This was at Northern Illinois University by the way...in Neptune hall. Bitch ima find you one day.

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  23. I have a similar philosophy. I don't disrespect anyone's clothes and I will give a little buffer time if I see they haven't done it right away, but after that, I feel like it's fair for me to move forward with my day. That said, I do try to move it as fast as possible! Don't wanna be caught! Too awkward to handle! (My boyfriend, on the other hand, will wait forever. He's a nice guy, I am not. I wait like 2 seconds and then I'm like IVE GOT THINGS TO DO -- even if those things are watching more TV and eating snacks, haha.)

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  25. Ugh I really don't miss the communal laundry days. Seriously, the worst!

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  26. The sitter is at fault, one hundred percent here.

    I have been using communal laundry rooms ever since I started college... except for rare occasions that I have been home. I have not had difficulty with sitters yet, thankfully.

    But the machines in my complex also have no card associated with them--but I'm flush with quarters right now.

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  27. Our building has 3 machines for 32 units and shit gets intense downstairs. Our landlords are hilarious and have mean signs posted everywhere pretty much allowing any of the "movers" to do what they have to do. No shenanigans here.

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