Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Loathing Laundry

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate doing laundry?

Now, if you are a normal person in a normal house somewhere, then your first thought may perhaps be that I am lazy and just avoid chores at all costs. That's not true by any means. I'm responsible, hard-working and I keep things pretty tidy. It's just that for going on six years now, I haven't had a washer and dryer.

I'll admit, my mom did every bit of my laundry all the way up through high school. I'm very appreciative of this, though for most of my time at home, my mom has a stay-at-home mother, so I don't feel like too bad of a person for letting her do it. Mom took good care of me and kept an impeccably clean house, and I'm grateful for the home life I had growing up. I did my share, taking out the trash and cutting weeds, but laundry was a chore I hadn't had the so-called pleasure of doing so much.

Enter U.S. Army basic training in June 2003. I had to do my own laundry for the first time. It wasn't too bad though. Everything was dirty, all the time, and there was no separating colors and such. Everything was some shade of green or brown. Plus, the laundry machines were right across the hall from my bay, and we all helped each other out, doing each others' laundry during our nighttime fire guard shifts (this was pretty much the only time we had to do it except for Sundays).

So, all that wasn't too bad, but then I started college the following fall. The laundry machines in my dorm were one floor up, and they were rarely available for use unless I did my laundry at 4 a.m. Luckily, when I moved to a different dorm, the machines were one room over from my room. This was probably the best time of my life when it came to doing laundry, as I could put my laundry in while I took a nap right next door. The only problem with this is that there was no station in my dorm to add money to my student ID, the only thing the machines accepted as payment. I found myself walking all the way across campus to the student center to add funds all the time.

Next came my senior year of college. I got my own apartment, unfortunately without a washer and dryer. There was a laundry building only about 20 yards away with coin-operated machines. This setup wouldn't have been too bad if I hadn't been enduring the busiest year of my life, coupled with maintaining a long-distance relationship. It was either do my laundry when I got home at 3 a.m. from work, meaning I was alone in a laundry room (that had no lights) while multiple homeless people walked through the alley where my apartment was, or I could pack all my laundry up, haul it to Virginia, haul it to the laundry room 50 yards away from my girlfriend's apartment, wash it, dry it, haul it back to her apartment, and then put it back in my car and haul it back to West Virginia. Needless to say, it rarely got hung back up in the closet when I got back to West Virginia, so I just got dressed from little piles of categorized clothes in my bedroom floor.

Now, all through college, of course, I was still in the Army National Guard. This meant I usually went home one weekend a month for drill. These weekends were such a stress relief for me because it meant Mom was going to do my laundry again. The only problem with this was it included a strong feeling of guilt from being an adult who still has his mother do his laundry (especially since she was now working a full-time job). There's no way my laundry would've got done on those weekends though if she hadn't have done it (and I think my dad did it once or twice too) considering how busy I always was at the armory, usually getting home pretty late and being pretty exhausted (if they let us come home for the night at all).

So, what's this all leading up to? Well, now I'm in graduate school at Virginia Tech, and I'm living in an apartment with laundry facilities. Laundry has still been a very big stressor in my life for the past year because my girlfriend and I have to load up all of our laundry and carry it out to the laundry room on-site. This isn't so simple, though. It has a process. A drawn-out process. See, first we have to decide we are motivated enough to undertake the task. Then, we have to get quarters to do the laundry with. The local Kroger quit letting me exchange a $20 bill for two rolls of quarters, or any quarters for that matter. So, now, I have to also plan to make it to the bank during bank hours at some point to get quarters to do the laundry with. Plus, you can't just drive through to get coins, you have to get there during lobby hours and walk inside. The bank tellers of course then look at you like you just wasted their time and say, "Is that all you need?" Yes, unfortunately, I don't have $500,000 to withdraw so I can buy myself a house with a washer and dryer.

So, I've got my quarters, and I've decided to do laundry. I get home and we now must separate all of the laundry into its appropriate categories — laundry is apparently the only place where segregation is still acceptable and the only industry that technology hasn't revolutionized with some sort of device or detergent that allows for the mixing of all pieces of clothing in the wash, regardless of color or newness. Next, it is time to carry the laundry up and down all of the appropriate steps and then drag it out to the laundry room, which can take two or more trips sometimes (especially because you almost never have the extra hand needed to grab the detergent, dryer sheets or quarters). Also, apparently it is a national spectacle when you do laundry because the whole apartment complex shows up to just stare as you walk by, watching your anguish (either that or they all decide to do their laundry at the same exact time as they see you beginning to step out of your door with yours, bringing their loud, snot-nosed brats for the experience).

Once I'm to the laundry room, I think it's finally almost over — but it's just begun. See, last time I went to do laundry, after I had washed it all, and walked back out for what seemed like the hundredth time to switch it all over to the dryers, I found out they had raised our dryer prices. Now, it costs $1.50 for 30 minutes. It used to cost $0.50 for that amount of time just a week ago. In total, it would now end up costing about $31 to do two peoples' laundry for a week. In my rage, I pulled everything out into hampers and threw it in my car, ready to speed away to the laundromat with my sopping wet intimates. The prices were cheaper at the laundromat by a lot, and their dryers actually worked (imagine that). By the time I got home with the laundry, even though I had started the whole debacle in the morning, it was dinner time.

I dumped all of the laundry out on the bed — the pile was monstrous and so ominous I felt a tear well up in my eye. I left it there to wrinkle and opted to blog instead. I have had it with laundry. If only I had a washing machine and a dryer of my own, which is now pretty much my life goal, then I could simply put a load in as it becomes necessary, perhaps washing one or two each day in the convenience of my own home without requiring a strategy Patton would envy just to get my clothes clean.

Laundry is the bane of my existence, to use a cliché. I seriously get stressed out every time I notice it is almost time to do laundry again. Once I live somewhere with my own washer and dryer, I think my life will mostly be complete... especially if there's a dishwasher.

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