What is it About the Laundromat?

Yesterday was Memorial Day, so I did what any god-fearing 'Murican would do. I did laundry. Because nothing says "Thank You to those who Serve" like clean socks.

My method of doing laundry is this: I never sort unless I have a brand-spankin' new never washed before red item. Everything gets dumped into two washers with as little ceremony as I can muster. After it is all washed, everything gets shoved into one dryer. When everything is dry, it gets crammed - unfolded - into my laundry bag. Then I bring it home and fold it anywhere from immediately to two days later. It gets put away. Eventually.

This is apparently not the "done" thing when it comes to laundry.

Over the past few weeks, I've been watching how other people do their laundry and it is kind of fascinating to me. Whether people come in with huge loads or just one, I've noticed a trend. Instead of handful of items being shoved into the washer willy nilly, each individual item must be taken out, inspected, shaken out if it crumpled into a ball, and then gently tossed into the washer. Each individual item. Even socks. The method is then repeated with the dryer, and then with the folding process.

People spend hours in the laundromat fondling the clothes they bring in. Don't get me wrong, I like clothes, they keep me warm in the winter and from being arrested in the summer for public indecency. But generally speaking, I don't fondle them. Because they are clothes. Things. Nothing of importance in the grand scheme of things. They come in to your life, they go out of your life. Replaced by other things.

I'm not judging anyone's way of doing laundry. The end result is clean clothes and everyone's thankful for that. I guess it just leaves me mildly amused and curious. Does touching each bit of clothing bring back fond memories of the past week? Of the significant other or child it belongs to? Does it awaken a yearning for something else you'd forgotten about? Does it ground you to this time and place? Does it remind you that this person - the one who wore those shorts on Tuesday - belongs to you? That you are someone, that someone depends on you? Are they thinking about all the work that went in to each individual item, that someone very far away labored for an exceedingly long time in deplorable conditions to bring them that Nascar t-shirt?

This is the famous Lady Diana dress from back in the '80s, on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum. I took this pic back in 2009 when I visited England. I would lovingly fondle this dress all day long. It would get weird and uncomfortable.

And what does it say about me, that my clothes (with one or two expensive/delicate exceptions) get shoved hither and yon?

I don't know the answers to any of these questions. I just get really bored at the laundromat. And maybe that's the answer to all of the questions.


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