This was my first experience with a “load” like this. And it’s not the fact that pride is hard to wash away, for me it was the fear of being exposed and out of my element for the first time in a while. Discomfort, inconvenience, the fear of the unknown all took trail behind me as I made my way in, and checked my laundromat snobbishness at the door…
So the last time I remember setting foot in a laundromat was about the age of 4. I recall that age fairly well still. My parents, my sister Jaclyne and I lived in a duplex back then, down in San Pedro. I remember our tire swing in the backyard, playing with play-doh on the back patio, our neighbor who had a giant toybox, shaped like a turtle that seemed to hold oodles of toys which I was envious of, and of course I’ll never forget our days at the laundromat. I just remember encountering so many various walks of life there. To me at that young age, it was like such an exposure to people of the world by simply sitting on a chair waiting for the clothes to get done. Back then it was leaving my safe environment at home with mom to go to a place where you never knew who you would meet, or what you would see. To be quite honest it was a place where I encountered someone with obscenely large ears for the first time in my life (couldn’t stop staring I’m sure) and the first time I noticed or became aware of other races besides mine(I asked my mom why the guy next to us looked purple). Through the eyes of a child, who wouldn’t know any better than to be bluntly aware of my surroundings, I also didn’t know anything other than that way of life at the time. It was a good time, and I am thankful for that.
Fast forward several years, my parents bought their first home, and we became accustomed to washing our clothes in the comfort of our own home. Laundromats became a thing of the past and that was that. I don’t like to call it a snobbish thing but essentially, I wouldn’t have dreamed of being in another one of those places again in my life. I knew that those days for us as a family were tight living and I guess somewhere down the road I began to associate it with being poor. How sad does that sound though I’m sure. For some I know it might be their entire life they use a laundromat and it has nothing to do with their status of living. It was just an ignorant way of thinking and becoming spoiled yet again with the luxuries in life.
Well the time ultimately came where I was faced with the fact that I had to actually step in a place like that again, out of necessity. THERE WAS NO WAY AROUND IT!! Pull up the shoulders and walk in like a big girl….figure it out and don’t drop any underwear on the way out! So that’s what happened, this big girl walked in again 25 years later, 3 kids in tow, and with A LOT of laundry I might add!
It actually wasn’t as scary as I imagined either. As much as I had done my laundry time after I time, I felt like there must be some magic way of working the machines that I was unaware of. Thankfully I met the sweetest lady who works the place, and she had me feeling right at home in no time, showing me the ropes. The kids all liked to help with it of course. What’s more fun than loading up clothes and pouring the soap in with mom right? Watching the dryers spinning is a favorite pass time now too lol.
One thing that I noticed hasn’t changed over the years are the various walks of life you can meet there. I have had the pleasure of meeting a homeless man, who is now on my list of inspiring people that I have been blessed to meet in this life. He lives out of his car at the moment, yet manages to take care of himself still some way or another. He is on the road to recovering from this state of living which he has been humbly open about with me. The nice owner of this particular laundry place has taken a chance on him and gave him a job to help get him back on his feet. There is also a local church that has been very good to him as well. The same sweet lady (her name is Cathy) who made me feel at home, also brings him a good meal when he works. It’s just so refreshing to see truly GOOD PEOPLE in this world taking care of others. Having the opportunity to meet this man was a blessing. I have seen him working hard there and it is obvious he is grateful to be working, regardless of what job it is. It hit me when one day when I had run out of quarters as I was waiting for a last load to finish drying. It ended prior to all the clothes being completely dry. When both Cathy and the homeless man saw that my clothes weren’t done drying, they insisted that I don’t leave with damp laundry. It was at that point that this man reached in his pocket and begins putting quarters in the machine for me. It was as if he didn’t think twice about it…just gave away any hard-earned change like it was nothing. I couldn’t even thank him enough. How do you give thanks to a person in that situation who still gives of himself regardless of his own needs. All I could do was pray later that evening and gave my thanks to God for giving me that special moment to learn from that day.
There is much to be learned in this world. Try spending a couple of hours in a laundromat and you are bound to discover something. I am so thankful for being reintroduced to this experience all these years later. Even more so because I never want my kids to feel that they are too good for these places or anything for that matter. There is a huge upside to bringing our clothes in there as well: it saves me time because I can get it all done at once and it’s saving water since I’m not at home doing it! Besides the worst thing that could happen (dropping underwear in the street) hasn’t happened yet, so I think I can get used to this for a while! The pride has dried so to say 🙂