the speakers are blaring music that I don’t particularly care for…& damn yeh, I would love to have my own washer & dryer at home…but there is just something about being at the laundrymat that kinda feeds the soul…. it’s, like, so REAL…a microcosm of cultural diversity in one place…. the 16th Street Launderland is a real down-to-earth kinda place…the owners are a hippie-dippie husband & wife team who may or may not have done a lot of acid trips in the ’60s (not that there’s anything wrong with that) & they’re friendly…well the wife is friendly…the dude seems a little grumpy sometimes…. one of the cool things about the place is that they give you a little green card (no not that kind) & when you’ve had it stamped 10 times, you get a free wash…. they don’t overcharge (knock wood) & you get a fair amount of dryer time for your quarters…. I feel kinda at home here…you got your homeless & your Safe Ground peeps, students, Seniors, kids, black, brown, white folks…. on the wall, “thank you” is painted in both English & Spanish…. today it’s raining outside so it’s sort of a refuge…but during the summers it’s hotter’n hell in here & all they have are giant fans, no air-con…. like Mark Twain might say, in the dog days of summer, you’re “roughin’ it”….
I used to move around a lot & sittin’ here reminds me of all the self-serve laundries that I have patronized over the years…. it’s kinda like, where I’ve done my laundry is a mini-history of my life…. even some of my clothing tells a story…I’ve been laundering a lot of it for like 10 years….
when I was a kid of course my Mom did the laundry…. but after I moved out I was mostly on my own…. the apartment I lived in for 3 years in Beverly Hills (north of Wilshire!) (yeh, I don’t know what happened either) in the early 1980s had an onsite laundry…a dark little room in a storage area…not pleasant….
when I lived in the barracks at Fort Ord, there were washers & dryers down the hall…. you left your stuff in the machines unattended at your own risk…I lost a couple sets of uniforms that way…. when I told the dude-in-charge, he told me that someone probably took them by mistake & when he/she realized the error, I would get them back…ha ha ha ha ha…. now I DO try to believe in the innate goodness of others, but it generally doesn’t work in an Army barrack…never did get compensated for that one….
& then there was the Pacific Grove Coin Laundry…clean, bright, stark even, not far from where I lived…. I think it’s gone now…the people who can afford to live in Pacific Grove these days don’t need a wash & dry…I mean, like, how “du tiers monde”….
when I lived in Washington state in the early ’90s, apartment rentals were incredibly inexpensive & they INCLUDED mini washers & dryers in each unit…. I still dream of such an arrangement to come my way again….
which brings me to Sacramento…2 apartment buildings with convenient onsite facilities…. then I lived in a house for 6 years where the “proprietor” was so controlling about the proper ways to use the laundry room that my laundry would pile up much as it does now & I might as well could’ve searched for a coin-op…. no need to dwell on that nightmare….
& so…full-circle to the 16th Street Launderland…. in many ways, I’d rate it as my all-time favorite, even though it’s kinda funky & the floors are old & scuffed & there are unmatched socks hanging up on a clothes line against the wall & the music is…odd…. the coin machine works & they give away free books…. it’s got character, it’s unique, it’s (usually) friendly…good things so dismally lacking in our homogenized, franchised society…. okay, time to fold….
when I left Launderland yesterday, the very nice (female) owner helped me carry my clean laundry to my car…. when I got back to my apartment building with laundry & groceries & of course a few books, my dumbass football-jock, Princeton-grad neighbor & his 2 brain-challenged buddies were coming out at the same time…. not one of them offered to help me carry anything up the stairs…. alas, they seem to represent the direction of civility in the US…the funky friendly Launderlands are a dying breed….
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