As a new inductee into the laundromat “hall of shame”, I have spent many hot, boring hours making observations about the people that use laundromats and how they interact. Since I do have a degree in psychology and love to “people watch”, the potential drudgery that is a coin operated washing machine has turned into somewhat of a social experiment for me. Here is a very non spiritual blog about human nature.
Lesson #1: People do not know how to handle money……….
I already knew this lesson based on the current state of our economy, the high bankruptcy rate, and the excessive credit card debts that Americans have. However, my lack of faith in peoples ability to budget correctly has been confirmed. Unless a laundromat is a necessity (i.e. you live in a tiny little space with 4 people and it is impossible to have a washer and dryer, you live in a college dorm, you have items too big or too numerous to wash at home, or you are temporarily in hock with a broken appliance), laundromats save you absolutely no money whatsoever. It typically costs us around$20 every time we go to a laundromat to wash and dry our clothes. Maybe it would save you some money if you were a single person, but I figured even if you didn’t have the straight up cash to purchase the washer and dryer, most appliance stores and furniture stores have 90 plus days same as cash and other payment plans. Even if you only went to a laundromat twice a month at $20 a pop, you could put $40 a month into a payment for a washer and dryer. Sam’s Club has a good quality washer and dryer for $300 each. It would take you 15 months at $40 a month to pay both a washer and dryer off if all the money you had was your laundromat money. This saves you bunches of money considering the life of your machinery is at least 10 years and 10 years in a laundromat at $40 a month would cost you $4,800. Also, it is not economical to spend $2 on a tiny one time use box of off brand detergent. Buy your detergent at Wal-Mart and bring it with you.
Lesson #2: People would prefer to pretend like they are blind rather than acknowledge that other people exist
A majority of the people that visit the laundromats that I have frequented must have an extreme fear of others because they literally won’t even look at you. Is it any wonder that so many Americans are on Prozac? People might possibly be happier if they acknowledged other humans and had interactions that brought them out of their comfort zone. I have had very few things said to me in the laundromats that I have a visited with the exception of one warning from an employee that it was too late for someone like me to be out walking the streets with laundry. Hey, at least one person cared. For the most part though, people live their lives full of complete indifference and mysterious unconcern.
Lesson#3: People are embarrassed of underwear
Shockingly enough, in a world of thongs and butt cracks hanging out of low riders, people at laundromats do their best to hide their underwear when putting them in the washer, transferring to the dryer, and folding. I find this quite interesting considering the fact that people have no modesty of shame in most public places. I daily see breasts, butt cheeks, and thighs that I have no desire to look at because people wear clothes that don’t fit. But for some reason, people would rather die than have their tightey whiteys exposed at a laundromat.
Lesson #4:Cleanliness is not a Virtue
Believe it or not, in a place where you are trying to get all of your stuff clean and rid your life of stains, dirt, and baby poop smears, cleanliness has little or no value. I would think of a laundromat as sort of a temple to worship the soap God. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is very scary to imagine the sorts of creatures and fuzz that live in the washers and dryers of a public laundry facility. I deeply inspect every machine before I let it touch my clothes. Beyond that though, the floors are sticky and filthy and you better not even walk near the bathroom. You may be accosted by a sea monster or some other species that lurks in the sink and toilet. Definitely don’t wear the same shoes in your house that you wore in the laundromat. I have encountered every type of sticky goo plastered on the laundromat floors, stools, benches, and tables.
Lesson #5: Capitalism is King
There is power in the concept of capitalism. As enticing as it sounds to make sure that everyone has an opportunity for equal financial status, the laundromat has shown me that competition and supply/demand still work as a basis for financial growth. The amount of money I have spent at any given laundromat has varied considerably from the North East to the Mid-West. The towns with only one laundromat cost excessively more than the towns where free enterprise reign. If you offer a good product and a good price, they will come. We don’t need too many regulations on that, we just need entrepreneurs to stir the American spirit. I have used the same machine in two different places and in one place it cost 8 quarters to run and in another place the identical machine was 15 quarters. While this would make some people upset, it only serves to remind me of the freedoms that we have as Americans to succeed or be duped. It is up to you which end you sit on.
Lesson Learned: It is amazing what sitting and watching clothes spin around will due to your psyche. Go outside more often =)