Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Laundry Among the Unwashed Masses

Yesterday was one of those days, where after looking sideways at Tuesday's cards on the table, politely nod to the dealer and push my cards away...folding back into bed.

Last night's goal was to tackle a rather prodigious pile of laundry, this trek started upon discovering a shortage of the necessary quarters. Knowing I could receive the allotted change at my local Osco and also procure shampoo, I headed there first. My total was $4.12, I handed the cashier a $10.12...and got back $5.88. This snag, despite dragging the store manager into things did eventually produce $6.00 in shiny quarters.

Getting the actual laundry to "The Washing Basket" proved to be a expedition worthy of Sir Edmund Hilary. While Chicago received no more than average snowfall last week, the streets and sidewalks are far from clear.... I have a white laundry cart without snow tires. A cumbersome push-me-pull-you dance proceeded the 3 blocks to the launderette, and when finally dragging my cart inside remarked, "At least I didn't fall on my ass!"

Amazingly, it appeared to be a slow night, the interior revealing no one in the act of doing laundry and 2 of the "regulars" (friends of the manager's sitting up front watching TV). I quickly started the dumping of detergent and dispersal of whites, colors and darks into the appropriate machines. The door suddenly flings open and "Joe" a drinking buddy of the aforementioned two, sidles in reeking of bad pilsner and carrying a 24pack. The three start into various slurry diatribes on "Why I'm not a drunk." "The Guatemalan vs. Mexican heritage of an ex-wife" and "What it means to be a gentleman."

Having decided I had somehow stumbled into "Reality Laundromat: Where only the Clothes Get Clean" I decided, while bad, things could be worse. The door wisps open a second time, and a homeless woman shuffles in complete with bags, mumbling and a stench to make the folks at Tide tremble. She parks herself opposite me and starts digging through bags to find a cigarette and proceeds to chain smoke and watch the Critic's Choice Awards.

Never fear, all this time the boozed bunch in back have continued to get thoroughly sotted are unceasing in their philosophical ramblings and, taking a cue, have now also started smoking heavily. Thankfully, this also marks the halfway point, and I switch my clothes to the dryers on the other side of the room with NASCAR competition speed.

After settling in to my plastic chair and sending a silent prayer that the next 30 minutes passes just as fast, I resume reading my book. Our boozehounds decide at this point to attempt a mini-dance competition in which one, with a full brewskie stumbles and sprays me with foul beer. Profuse apologies ensue; I disowning the English language, just nod and go back to my book. Several minutes pass and the back door opens, it's the manager, I'm saved! Or not. He jokes with the guys for several minutes before mentioning that they really need to check with customers before smoking. "Miss," he asks me "is the smoke bothering you?" In awe, I replied actually it was, (yea, THAT’s the problem) and if they could hold off for the 5 minutes it would take to pack up my things from the dryers that would suffice.

Dryer removal was embarked on at turbo speed, when quite suddenly, the manger grabs one of the guys and body slams him up against the turbo washer; my memory is a little fuzzy here as I was quite focused on getting the hell out, but I believe the word "DUDE" was uttered. The last dryer clicked at last and my cart was full steamed in reverse towards the door. As I was wrenching the outer door open the manger calls out to me from the back "Thanks ma'am, have a nice night."

The trek back to my apartment goes slightly better, and though I am loathe to every do laundry there again, the evening is over. Bending down to yank the cart over the last hill of snow, I slip and fall smack on to the icy sidewalk, brusing my posterior.

House folds, Tuesday has blackjack.


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