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Laundry Day

By Larry Gross · May 2nd, 2013 · Living Out Loud
Traditionally, Monday is the day when most people wash their clothes, or so I’ve been told. For me, it’s whenever I have enough quarters for the machines to get it done. I happened to have enough quarters that morning and it just happened to be on a Monday.  

I have laundry facilities in the basement of the apartment building where I’m now living. This beats going to a laundromat, which is what I’m used to doing. Getting used to something isn’t necessarily a good thing and I don’t miss having to catch a bus dragging along my dirty pants, shirts, towels and underwear and laundry detergent in garbage bags. Carrying them down to a basement is a bit of a luxury for me.   

At 8 a.m., I thought I was getting an early start but there was Eve down there in the laundry room sitting at a table reading a book. I thought it could have been a Bible, but wasn’t sure. She eyeballed my two trash bags of dirty clothes.

“They have cheap laundry baskets at the dollar store,” she said, giving me a smile. “I can drive you there sometime if you’d like.”

“Well, thank you,” I replied. “Maybe someday we can do that.”

Eve’s a rather tall lady with long black hair that’s turning gray. Actually, I’d say it’s mostly gray now. I’m thinking she’s probably in her early 60s. She wears black rimmed glasses and I always see her in sweatpants and sweatshirts. She’s not heavy but she’s not thin either. I guess you would call her big-boned.

With my two trash bags full of clothes, I walked over to two machines to the left of the laundry room. These machines were the furthest away from Eve. I didn’t want her watching me sort out my clothes. As I was doing so, she yelled over at me.

“Now you know, you need to separate your white clothes from your dark clothes,” she said.

“Yes, I know,” I said.

Eve closed her book, got up from her chair and walked over to me.

“Let me show you how these machines operate,” she said. “I want to get you off to a good start.”

Patiently, I let Eve show me the difference between normal washing and permanent press. She educated me on hot water versus warm water. She also thought it was necessary to show me how to put my quarters into the machines.

Normally, I would have told a person doing this type of bullshit to leave me the hell alone, but I just let her talk and give me instructions. I mean, she could have been reading the Bible at that table and I didn’t want any trouble with a religious person. I was going to be respectful. In fact, I even thanked her as I started to leave the laundry room.

“You’re not going to stay here to watch your clothes?” Eve asked as she walked back to her table and book.

“No,” I said. “I’ll come back in half an hour or so.”

“You know, people have been known to come down here and steal other people’s clothes,” she said. “I wouldn’t take a chance on that.”

“I’ll chance it,” I replied. “There’s nothing in those machines worth stealing.”

“I’ll be here anyway,” Eve said. “I’ll guard your clothes.”

As I took the elevator back up to my apartment, I envisioned Eve standing over those two washing machines wearing some kind of military outfit and holding a machine gun in one hand and a Bible in the other. She wasn’t going to let anybody steal my damn underwear.

Half an hour or so later, I went back downstairs to put my clothes in the dryer. Eve was still down there sitting at a table and reading her book. We smiled at each other. I found a couple dryers and started transferring my clothes into them.

“Now, you know about the lint traps,” I heard Eve say. I looked over at her as she got up from the table.

“It’s very important to remove the lint from those traps,” she said, as she removed the lint traps from the dryers and deposited the nonexistent lint into a garbage can. “If you don’t, it can be very dangerous. It can even start a fire!”

“Well, we don’t want that,” I said. “Thanks for reminding me.”

Just like with the washing machines, Eve thought it was necessary to educate me on the hot button, the warm button and how to feed the quarters into the dryers. Again, I kept my mouth shut, but after her instructions, I wanted to run out of the laundry room. I told Eve I’d be back in 45 minutes. She said, “Well, if that’s what you want to do.”

I let the 45 minutes turn into an hour. I was dreading going back downstairs to the laundry room but I had to get my clothes. As I entered the room, Eve was still there sitting at that table and reading her book. I tried to get a look at what she was reading. Sure enough, it was indeed a Bible.

Eve smiled at me as I walked over to the two dryers that were still warming up my clothes. I stood there for a minute listening to my clothes being tossed back and forth in them. As I listened, something crossed my mind.

Where were Eve’s clothes? She had been sitting in the laundry room all that time but she didn’t appear to have any washing machines going or any dryers either. Was she just in there reading? What was that about?

I opened up one of the dryer doors and started putting my warm clothes in one of my garbage bags. Eve noticed.

“Aren’t you going to fold your clothes before doing that?” she asked. “Your clothes are going to get all wrinkled that way.”

“I always iron my clothes anyway,” I said, “so it doesn’t make any difference.” Eve smiled at me. I finished putting my clothes in my bags.

As I was leaving the laundry room, I asked Eve, “Do you always do your laundry on Monday?”

“Yes,” Eve replied. “Monday is laundry day for me.”

“Well, thanks for your help,” I said.

“Oh, you’re very welcome!” Eve replied. “See you next Monday.”

When I got back up to my apartment, I quickly removed my clothes from the garbage bags and started to hang them up quickly. Normally I would have folded them downstairs but I wanted to get the hell out of that room. I lied to Eve about owning an iron — haven’t used one or had one in years.

Despite the fact I’ve been doing my own laundry for nearly 40 years, it was nice of Eve to give me guidance on the procedure. She’s a sweet, god-fearing, Bible-reading woman who apparently sits in the laundry room with no clothes of her own to wash.

Monday. That’s Eve’s normal laundry day. I think I’m going to make mine Tuesday or Wednesday.

Contact Larry Gross at letters@citybeat.com. Larry Gross’s third book and first novel, “The Hurricane Café,” is available now through Amazon.com.



05.03.2013 at 11:46 Reply

I think Eve wanted to do more than help you with your laundry. Wink, wink.


05.05.2013 at 06:28 Reply

Reading your column almost made me get down on my hands and knees to thank God for my very own washer and dryer. I no longer have to put up with this kind of stuff in a laundry room. Praise Jesus.