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.