Tuesday, Sep 26, 2017
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Mary Alice Powell

Taking a spin to the laundromat

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Mary Alice Powell

THE BLADE
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How long has it been since you loaded your laundry into the car and headed for a laundromat?

My answer to that question would have been so many years ago that I don’t remember other than an occasional use of equipment in a motel while traveling.

But last week was a serious motherload of laundry that had to be done: sheets, slacks, tops, lingerie, kitchen towels, bath towels, or enough to cram into two large machines.

There are two reasons that I am sharing the washing experience.

No. 1: Laundromats haven’t changed in 20 years.

No. 2: The low bid may be inviting but can result in a fiasco.

Remember how beautiful the weather was last Saturday? It was the perfect day to be outdoors to enjoy the kind of day I refer to as a “Maui wowie,” or typical of Hawaiian weather.

But because I had no operable washer and dryer at home, time at a laundromat was scheduled on that lovely day.

With a large basket bulging with everything from sheets to wash cloths, I managed to lift the load of linens into the back seat of the car and headed out in search of a laundromat, hopefully a large one where there would be plenty of other customers I could talk to.

It was at Long John Silver’s drive-through window in Maumee that I was told of the nearby Maumee Laudry and Dry Cleaning. I often stop at Long John’s for two pieces of fried dish, with deep-fried batter I shouldn’t eat, and hush puppies. It was a perfect lunch to take to munch on while I did the washing. And drying.

The laundromat in Maumee is equipped with so many washers and dryers I gave up counting them. It is open  24/​7, which gives second and third-shift workers a chance to do their washing when it is convenient. It is also handy for sleepless people who wake up in the middle of the night, don’t feel like reading or watching TV, and decide, ‘Oh, I guess I’ll go to the laundromat to while away a few hours.’

It was disappointing that on the Saturday afternoon there was only one man there doing his laundry. He was into the drying cycle and had head phones on, so talking with him was out.

I had chosen Saturday thinking the place would be busy and interesting, but the two hours passed more quickly than I anticipated, thanks to talking on the cell phone, reading The Blade, and taking notes for this column.

The only change that I noted in the laundromat visit this time, compared to years ago, was that it costs more, which was not surprising.

Otherwise, it was functional with plenty of equipment to accomplish the purpose. 

There were no comfy recliners or a TV lounge, but there are ample chairs and a couple of gaming machines that customers can play for $1, $2, and $5 a pop.

A money-changing machine if you run out of quarters, which I did, and an ATM are necessary.

If I hadn’t needed all of my quarters in the washers and dryer, I could have had some M&M’s from the candy machine.

I put 30 quarters into three machines, for a total laudromat cost of only $7.50. I can’t say that I had a wonderful time, but surely the cost, though more than it used to be, was well worth it. To that cost, of course, add the detergent and other products some people feel are essential, including the dryer sheets. Two Tide pods in each washer were sufficient.

Nine of the quarters were fed to a double-load washing machine, and 13 went into the slot of a triple-load machine. The double-loader was good for 27 minutes on regular wash, and the triple-loader for 23 because it was on permanent press.

The remaining eight quarters were for dryer time. The giant dryer still had time when I left, as there is no gauge to tell you how many quarters for a certain length of time or how many minutes you have. My $2 was more than enough to dry even the heavy bath towels.

The laundromat with all of the modern machinery was a natural inspiration to recall washing days at Mother’s rooming house in Adrian that was mother-and-daughter time at the wringer washer. The wooden stick that we used to jostle items in the rinse water has a place of honor on my wall.

In those long-ago wash days that many of us remember, we had to hang the wet items out in winter and bring them in frozen stiff to dry somewhere in the house, smelling wonderfully fresh.

The current laundry challenge began with the decision to have a stacked washer and dryer unit installed on the main floor of the house to prevent a possible stairway fall going into the basement to the full-size appliances. In my plan, the basement appliances, which are in excellent condition, were to be saved to wash heavy things like blankets, bedspreads, and rugs that the smaller stackable appliances are not large enough to handle.

Much to my surprise, disappointment, high stress level, and even tears, the workman hired to install the plumbing for $500 dismantled the basement washer and dryer and used those parts rather than getting new pipes, electric, etc. for the new installation.

It must be noted that $2,100 was the quote by a company that I am sure would have left the old set intact. To add to the dilemma, when the stacked units were delivered, they were too big for the space allotted, which left me destined for the laundromat until both problems can be solved.

It is at these frustrating periods in home ownership that you have to wonder: Do I really want all the responsibilities that are dependent on unknown workers?

There’s a saying that I keep close at hand for times like this, and I so want to believe it: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in rain.”

I am hoping for a rain forecast ASAP.

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