I am sitting at the local laundromat, listening to my favorite music on Youtube through their epically awesome wi-fi connection (20mb/s down! WOOT!), and wondering about the human condition. Maybe it’s just the Koologi music (Dear Bob is my personal mantra song), or maybe it’s the cross-section of society that always ends up at a place like this, but I always seem to have fun watching the goings-on in the laundromat.
Laundry is something we all have to deal with, in one way or another. We all wear clothes (or at least the vast majority of us do, in public), and those clothes get dirty. Perhaps you have a laundry service that takes care of yours, or perhaps you have your own washer and dryer in your home. Or, just maybe, you are like us and spend at least a few hours each week at a local business filled with the smells of Tide detergent and Bounce fabric softener, and the sound of clanking clothes in high-powered dryers.
I used to believe that only a certain class of people visited these establishments. Those who either could not afford their own washer, or those who perhaps lived in conditions that did not warrant a private facility. For a long time, I associated these places with dirty clothes and dirty people. I have learned differently since we moved here.
Maybe it was just the class of people I met at the laundromat in California, but the people here seem more… normal. They bring their kids, who play the few video games in the corner (along with my husband), they sit and converse, and some of them do the same thing I’m doing and use the wi-fi to check messages and chat online with friends. The girl at the other end looks like she’s writing a term paper, her head buried either against her laptop screen or in a textbook before her on the table.
It makes me wonder what their lives are like when they leave here, and return to the “real world”. The laundromat is like an extension of some magical plane of existence, apart from the one we usually reside on. People come here, and for a few hours, time seems to slow to a crawl for them. The rest of the world ceases to exist for them, even if only for a short time. Then they pack up their clothes, no longer smelling of sweat but instead fragrant with the scent of flowers and powder, and leave. The laundromat no longer exists for them as they return to their normal lives, and the rest of us watch, a little wistfully, as they are ushered back into the world and away from our magical portal.