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Confessions of a Laundromat virgin

I hate to admit it but I was a teensy-weensy bit scared. The scrawny guy in the corner looked mildly menacing. The blonde at the table looked in control while the Oriental lady a few feet away looked positively territorial.

I was petrified.

I have never seen the inside of a Laundromat before. I have walked past it a million times as it was a few doors down from my workplace but never ventured inside. I was, after all, the smug owner of a working washing machine, with a dryer, I might add. I could do my laundry from the comfort of my own home, at my own sweet time. And I did so for five long years till the day my pipes got blocked with some mysterious substance and the water from my washing machine came flooding into the kitchen.

To say it caused panic in my heart is like saying the tsunami was a wee wave. What if the water seeped through my floorboards and into my neighbour's ceiling? What if it got soaked right through and fell on their heads? I would never be able to sell this place and make a whopping profit!

S put on his 'man of the house' hat and peered down the pipes as if he could unblock it with his laser vision. When that didn't work, he emptied the steaming contents of the kettle down it. Well, that didn't help one jot as the water stayed put - only now I had a sink full of water to deal with, as well!

As he went to root out the plunger and Mr Muscle's magic concoction, I loaded an Ikea blue bag with the dirty clothes and made my way to the laundromat. The minute I opened the door and stepped in, it was like I had gone behind the laundry world's version of the Iron Curtain. There seemed to be some sort of code to this place and I didn't have a clue what it was. Wrenching the door open, loading the machine, putting some coins in and getting it started, I found later, were the easy bits.

Not wanting to waste the hour it would take for the machine to chomp the dirt out of our clothes, I headed home to check on the progress being made. (And what a mistake that turned out to be!) By then, hubby dear had discovered that Mr Muscle was no match for our pipes and gone onto another stronger product, which promised to burst through the clog and make the pipe's insides look like brand-spanking-new.

Leaving him to his cartload of pipe-clearing products, I went back to the Laundromat, only to learn that these machines took a lot less time to do the washing than my one at home. While I was listening to the relative merits of Cillit Bang vs Mr Muscle, my wash cycle had ended and some one had emptied my sodden clothes into a basket and collared my machine.

Worse, two of the four tumble dryers sported 'Out of Order' signs. So I had to queue behind either a blonde with four bin bags full of dirty clothes and a dangerous looking individual with a bulging tote bag or a tough looking Chinese lady, who looked like she had a never-ending supply of clothes. I decided to go for the Chinese (fellow continent-woman and all that!) and thereby, made my second error of the day.

What I had assumed to be four bin bags full of dirty clothes, turned out to be four bin bags full of clean clothes. Even as I stood slack jawed, the blonde tipped out bag afte bag onto a table and neatly folded the clothes into her humungous hamper. She varied this routine by opening the dryer every once in a while, taking her family's smalls out and folding them into a different basket. By this time, the Chinese lady was joined by her husband and son, who went to a machine each, emptied their loads onto baskets and joined Mum. Mum then proceeded to open the door of her dryer, tipped the contents of the two baskets inside and put about half a million quid worth of coins in. As I stood there gaping like a fish, the timer went up and up, finally stopping at 85 minutes.

Eighty-five bloody minutes, on top of the twenty I have already put in! Someone's having a laugh and it certainly wasn't me!

I decided to put my years of Chennai living to good use (if you have stood outside your house, waiting for the water tank to come and dispense water, you would know what I am talking about!) and join the party. Tugging and shoving in turns, I moved my bag of clothes so it stood directly in front of the dryer. Kin or not, I was not budging for anyone anymore! I casually flipped my book open, lounged against the wall and maintained my position.

While I was deeply engrossed in the antics of Malachi, Gideon and Rebecca, the blonde finished her job and the bachelor with the tote bag dumped his load in, waited around for 20 minutes and cleared the way for the quick-footed brunette who had stood behind him! All the while, I waited like a lemon for my machine to finish drying all the wet clothes in China.

There was mild panic when the machine was still half-way through and Mum pushed my bag rudely out of the way. Even as I was wondering what I would do if she chucked in more clothes, she calmly took some of the dried ones and wandered away, while I breathed out a sigh of relief.

After a mind-numbing, mammoth hour and a half, the machine finally did its job and Mum slowly started emptying its contents into her bags. I stood behind her, hiding the machine and trying to look as menacing as I could armed with a paperback and a sack full of wet clothes. Mum took off, thankfully and I heaved my stuff in, praying the machine won't give up its ghost now that it was my turn. That would have been really the limit!

I nabbed the chair vacated by Mum, plonked it in front of my dryer and continued with my book. Soon enough, the deed was done and a call to the landline ensured the plumber downed tools and doffed the chauffeur's hat, carting me and my clean, fresh-smelling clothes home.

I arrived to see the kitchen in chaos – there were bottles of bleach, assorted chemical products and even a bottle of vinegar, some salt and soda bicard on the floor (well, we do watch How Clean Is Your House?) and assorted bits of pipes. S had finally thrown in the towel and started thumbing through the Yellow Pages for a plumber. Of course, no self-respecting plumber would come immediately and the only one whose diary wasn't booked till the next century offered to come in during the following weekend.

Even as S spluttered down the phone, I went back to my book without a care in the world. After all, I could do my washing at the laundromat down the road. I am not scared; I'm not a virgin anymore - I am a pro!

Posted by DesiGirl 5:58 pm  


  1. The Visitor said...
    And now you have two offers to make a clean $900 for secret shopping. :)
    DesiGirl said...
    The Visitor,
    *groan* I know! I keep meaning to delete those but can't be arsed!

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