An adventure in laundry

25 Oct

So, here I sit in the Laundromat waiting for my clothes to dry, while Richard holds down the fort in the Grummy. I can see the van outside the window I’m looking through. He brought me a cup of coffee and then went grocery shopping while I sit in here writing this, listening to the machines and waiting. For the first time ever, the place is completely empty.

Your typical laundromat

Ever spend a lot of time in a Laundromat? Over the last 4 years, I certainly have. We might have a lot of wonderful things in the Grummy but we don’t have a washer and dryer. So we’ve had to find places, wherever we go, to clean our clothes. When we visit our kids we use their machines and it’s wonderful because I can do a load whenever I need to, but when we’re on the road, we sometimes don’t find one until we have exhausted every piece of clean clothes we own.

Remember when you first lived away from home and had to use the local Laundromat? Remember what your outfits looked like on laundry day? I don’t know about you but when I was young and living in a house full of other young adults, everyone hated doing the wash so we all waited until none of us had anything decent to wear before we dragged our bags down to the Laundromat. Now I’m talking the 70’s here so you can imagine some of the outfits we appeared in public in…. purple corduroy hip hugger bell bottoms, with a blazingly bright orange tie dye sweatshirt and sneakers with no socks, because we didn’t have any clean ones left. Damn good thing I don’t have a picture of that as it would likely cause retinal damage. From the looks of some of the folks I’ve seen in Laundromats over the last few years, I’m thinking not much has changed.

Geez, and we really used to think we were cool!

You get to see a wide range of humanity in a Laundromat, from the local college student away from home for the first time, to the homeless with just enough money to clean the few clothes they own. I’ve had conversations with those who waited for the washer to stop spinning, from the mundane to the outright weird…. a local native artist who was so thrilled that I’d talk to her and listen to her life story, while our laundry went around and around, that she made me a beaded necklace and presented it to me as she left, an older gentleman who actually just stopped to say he’d seen me from the window as he walked by and because I was reading a book, I reminded him of his late wife, the young man who was completely flummoxed by the whole thing and wanted to know what the bleach was actually for, to a couple discussing a story that they’d read about dishwasher cooking and could you do the same thing in a washer if you used the hot water setting!

I like this place, not only does it have great coffee, a wonderful smell of roasted coffee beans and WiFi, but it has Artwork made of lost clothing all around the walls and Buddhist prayer flags hanging from the ceiling. Oh, I did tell you that I was in Victoria didn’t I? The city that combines 7 separate municipalities in the same space as one very small town, the worst homeless problem in Canada,  the most moderate climate in all of Canada, a very high number of retirees over 80, and one of the few places in North America where not only are you likely to smell someone smoking Marijuana, you’ll see folks sharing a joint as they walk down the street. In other words, Victoria’s an interesting city and the local laundries are just a microcosm of it.

Neat idea.

Great creativity!

This Laundromat is fairly small, both in physical size as well as numbers of machines and I like it that way. I’ve found places that were cavernous, with enough machines to clean the clothes of everyone in a  small town simultaneously and as noisy as a construction site, to sites where only one or two machines are available or operational, and so quiet, you’re afraid to speak above a whisper. Prices vary as well. In some, it would cost less to buy new clothes, in others you wonder how they manage to make a profit, here it’s about average.

Not only can you wash your clothes in a Laundromat these days, but lots of places give you other options besides just reading your book or paper. As I mentioned above, the place I’m in today has WiFi and an attached high end coffee shop, others have video games and lots of vending machines, or multiple TV’s tuned to the news, sports, soaps and  movie channels. There are ones that offers free hot showers, while you wash your clothes, others have a pizza stand connected with it, another with a car wash, pet wash and detailing shop attached and I’ve even heard of one in Nevada that has an attached bar, where you can have a drink and play the slots. You know, get your clothes clean while you get cleaned out!

We all need to wash our clothes and when you live on the road permanently you often find yourself looking for a place to do just that. You have to ask the locals or explore to find them, so you end up off the beaten track and when that happens you meet all sorts of interesting people and find unusual places. Remember life is about the journey, not the destination and trying to find a Laundromat is just another path in that journey.

Who knew doing ones laundry could be such an adventure, eh?

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