After years of being the master of my own laundry domain, I’ve recently become reacquainted with the world of mass laundering, better known as the washateria (or, if you prefer the fancier term, laundromat). There is no other place like the universe of public washing-and-drying. After weeks of being part of this unusual menagerie, I’ve had a few revelations certain to shake the modern world. Here are a few of them:
1. On every trip, there is at least one person who uses the 40-pound, $4.50 machine to wash less than five items of clothing. These machines are designed to hold several loads of laundry — like, four. Yet there’s always someone who uses it for one pair of shorts or one dirty bathroom rug. Why? Why, why, why?
2. Men often do not measure their detergent, which results in oversuds.
3. Women typically measure their detergent very carefully, which results in the right amount of suds.
4. Both men and women are prone to overstuffing the machine, which results in floods.
5. When there are floods, a woman appears with a mop as if from nowhere.
6. Quarters are heavy.
7. Quarters are valuable.
8. I can sit and stare at nothing for much longer periods of time than I previously thought.
9. Other people can sit and stare at nothing for much longer periods of time than I previously thought.
10. For some reason I am always convinced that it will only take four quarters — i.e., 24 minutes of time — to dry my clothes. I am always wrong.