When it comes to washing clothes in New York City, I’m very good…and I’m very bad. I have absolutely no problem getting my clothes clean, folded and put away nicely throughout the actual washing & folding process. That’s the easy part. I’ve been washing clothes since I was 8 years old; it’s not a problem in the least.
However, when it comes to washing clothes in public, that’s an entirely different story. And it’s not just at Laundromats either. Even when I was in college, taking my clothes down to wash my clothes alongside my roommates and classmates was an artful experience as well.
But having lived here in city on a campus, in Brooklyn, and now in a gentrified part of Harlem, one of those experiences have stood the test of my patience and is clearly the most difficult washing experience there is. Laundering your clothes in Harlem, on the edge of projects and new condominiums is about as ridiculous an experience as there can be, and for good reason, of which of course I will explain.
But before I even get to that, I know what you’re asking, “Why don’t I just pay to have my clothes washed?” After all, the average load of clothes that I take to the Laundromat probably costs just $25 to have washed. Well, in the words of Martin Payne from the Martin Lawrence Show, “I can’t pay the five!” I save about $15-$17 per load by washing my clothes myself, and I just can’t wrap my head around paying somebody else all that extra money for something that literally takes 10 minutes of actual work.
You stick the clothes in the washing machine.
You pull them out.
You stick the clothes in the dryer.
You pull them out.
You fold them, and then you probably go back to sitting on your butt or whatever it was that you were doing while waiting for the washer and dryer to finish up.
So why pay someone to do that for you? Sorry, I don’t care how much money neither you nor I am making, I can’t fade it.
Why is washing clothes in Harlem so difficult? Here are the typical thoughts that go through my mind on a day in which I have to launder my clothes.
Thought Process #1: Going Down the Stairs
“I love this damn apartment, but 4 flights of stairs! It’s a great daily routine for my health, but if I take one wrong step with this bag of laundry on my back, it’s all over.”
Thought Process #2: Arriving at the Laundromat
“Yes, it’s me again. I know you didn’t like my process the last time and had a few words for me, but I’m back. Just deal with it! It’s not like I come here by choice. You have a monopoly on the damn area, especially when I have this much laundry to carry down the street. And you can tell the little lady in the corner that I know she ratted me out for leaving my clothes in the washer for too long, too.”
Thought Process #3: A little testosterone?
“No, there aren’t any men here. For a city, and a section of the city, supposedly loaded with singles, why does it always feel as if I’m the only man that goes to the Laundromat?”
Thought Process #4: In need of change!
“Yes, I need change, and what do you mean ya’ll don’t have change for a $20? What do ya’ll think this is? One of the newsstands on 8th Avenue? Now I have to go all the way down the street to buy something from Duane Reade just to get some dollar bills so I don’t have to be bombarded with $20 worth of quarters for the next 2 weeks of my life.”
Thought Process #5: Don’t worry about how I do it.
“No, I don’t sort my clothes by color! Mind your own business! I learned a long, long, long time ago, that sorting your whites from your colors was about as unnecessary when it comes to clothing as with was when it came to race. So long as I don’t use any bleach, my clothes are going to come out just fine, so don’t worry about me. You only need to sort things according to their level of delicacy or how soiled they are. So yes, blue trousers can go in the same washing machine as white, cotton shirt.”
Thought Process #6: See you in a few.
“Yes, I’m leaving. Look, old lady, I have better things to do in my life than sit here and watch some machine spin around for the next 25 minutes. I’m going back to bang out this next post for my blog and I’ll be back in plenty of time to make sure your patron clothes-washers don’t have to wait for me to get my clothes out of the washing machine.”
Thought Process #7: Ooops!
“Yes, you had to wait for me!”
Thought Process #8: Damn you!
“No, I’m not sorry. Why would I be after you took my clothes out of the washer? And don’t you dare tell on me again, little lady in the corner!”
Thought Process #9: Patience is key.
“Yes, I’m putting my clothes in the dryer for an hour. All of my clothes are entirely too big for me anyway, so I don’t have a problem with them shrinking. Besides, I’d rather go home and read “Very Smart Brothas” than rush back here just so the rest of you don’t have to wait for my dryer to finish.”
Thought Process #10: Really unnecessary.
See Thought Process #7.
Thought Process #11: Not one more minute.
“No, I’m not going to fold my clothes here, because I’m not as anal about it as you are. The majority of clothes are t-shirts, pants and boxers anyway, so they can get wrinkled for all I care. Furthermore, I don’t want to have to be around you judgmental ladies and gents anymore. Damn, why does washing and folding clothes have to involve so much criticism?”
Thought Process #12: The finale…
“Yes, I just might break my back carrying these clothes up 4 flights of steps.”