The Rules of My Apartment Building’s Laundry Room
We’re in the basement. Any rules that apply upstairs don’t fly down here. The management company is not involved in the maintenance of washers and dryers. They don’t even know how the machines got down here in the first place.
If you have issues with your laundry card or with a machine, you can call that 1-400 number on the gray box by the door. If you think that 1-400 numbers are pretend and don’t connect you with anyone, you are correct.
One woman will sometimes crochet in the laundry room while her clothes are in the wash. Other times, she will sit and wait, without listening to a podcast or meditating. She’s being patient and is exhibiting something called “self-control.”
If you return to the laundry room after your cycle has finished, you forfeit your right to remove your clothes from the machine. The laundry room is a community space, and everyone will put their hands on everyone else’s underwear at some point—that’s just how it is, and how we’ve always done things down here. When you return to find that someone has put your wet clothes in a laundry cart, you may feel embarrassed, but those feelings will wane over time.
Following such an incident, generally accepted dialogue goes as follows:
Person who removed someone else’s clothes from the machine: “Oh, sorry. Hope that’s O.K.”
Person whose clothing was removed: “Oh, that’s totally fine. I’m sorry.”
Even if you don’t feel that sorry, try to say it like you mean it. “Fake it till you make it” is one of the many mottos of this laundry room. Another is, “Use OxiClean.” One more is, “Leave no trace.” And the last one I can think of is, “Carpe diem,” because that’s just generally a good idea. Also, your laundry pile is seeping out your front door. It’s time.
You can talk in the laundry room. You might talk about how long each of you has lived in the building, and that’s enough. Or you could give a closed-lip smile, or maybe only “smize”—that’s a word coined by Tyra Banks, if you didn’t know.
If you find a black sock on a machine, leave it there. Even if you realize that it is your sock, you can’t pick it up. That’s it. Keep better track of your stuff. This is a shared facility and now it’s everyone’s sock.
There are two kinds of dryers in the laundry room: one industrial-sized dryer that costs only $1.50 per load, and three small dryers that cost $2.50 per load. If you call the 1-400 number, they can explain that pricing structure to you.
If you nabbed the industrial dryer before I could lunge toward it in my spandex laundry shorts, good for you. I admire your quickness and agility and will have to do better next time.
If you move your laundry basket out of the way so that a neighbor can walk past, you need to book a flight to Burbank, because you’re going to be a guest on “The Ellen Show”! Most people don’t move their laundry baskets out of the way because they have their own needs in mind, but you operate differently. Ellen heard about your good deed and wants to give you a five-thousand-dollar laundry card, so that you can do laundry as much as you want.
When a machine is having issues, you must tape a note to it, scrawled in blood. The note should be on a three-by-five-inch piece of lined paper and say something like, “This machine started smoking when I was done with my load. Just a heads up.”
Ignore the cat who slinks around the laundry room wearing a tool belt and a tiny construction hat. He is not here to fix the machines—he has other things to do. He’s only passing through. I’m sorry.
If you feel that these laundry machines malfunction too often and are bad, consider yourself lucky that you didn’t live here in the eighties. I remember the old machines. I even remember when there were no machines, just buckets.