Sometimes you have to keep relearning a lesson, even though each time you think, “I’m never gonna forget that again!”
One lesson I keep forgetting is what a wonderful place a laundromat can be. Since we have a washer and dryer in our house — and have for the past 20 years or so — I often overlook the benefits of a room filled with washers and dryers.
When it has occurred to me in the past has been after a camping trip that resulted in four stinky sleeping bags, or when I’ve had a house full of guests coming and no clean linens. We have a very small washing machine, a holdover from when we had a very small house.
But through the years, the dirty laundry has gotten away from me and I’ve struggled to manage the piles. The way it’s supposed to work is each household member fills the laundry basket in his or her closet, then takes said basket to the laundry room to wash a load. However, each kid refuses to stop growing, so there are many articles of clothing that don’t fit them anymore.
To complicate things, older brother has clothes that can be saved for younger brother; younger brother has clothes that can be saved for younger cousin, and both brothers have stained/ripped/ruined clothing that should be destroyed. But all these clothes comingle in the same baskets and keep the piles growing beyond the space of their closet floors.
About two years ago, I was sick of the mess in the kids’ closets as well as not knowing how many wearable pairs of shorts, underwear or T-shirts each actually owned. So I sorted through all their clothes, leaving them with just a basket of dirty clothes that currently fit. The rest I cleverly deposited in the bathtub downstairs, next to the laundry room. From there, it would be a snap to toss in a load every other day or so until I was caught up.
See where this is going?
It turns out that if you shut the shower curtain on that bathtub, you never even notice those clothes in there. You can go about your business without any concern that hours of laundering, folding and distributing await you.
One slow day at the office, I confessed to friend and colleague Kim Orendor that I’d created this bathtub of last resort; a place where clothes and dirty sheets and beach towels and stinky uniform socks went to die. Occasionally, Kim would check my progress on the “tub of despair” — as she mistakenly but more accurately dubbed it — and I would shamefully admit I didn’t foresee ever being able to use that bathtub again.
In fact, this summer when we had five family members stay with us — and one of them a 2-year-old in need of daily baths — I had to tell them that one was off-limits because there was no place to put all that stuff. Tub of despair, indeed.
However, Kim planted a much-needed seed when she and I were discussing her plans to go to The Laundry Lounge on her day off. Wait a minute! They had lots of huge washers and dryers there and could give us back our bathtub in a few hours!
Even better, I looked up their services on their coolly designed website — www.thelaundrylounge.com — and saw that I could drop off the whole tub contents and they’d handle it all! Could this get any better?
I ensnared my husband to help me load the car, and off we went to The Laundry Lounge.
When we got there with our — gulp — 85 pounds of dirty laundry, the young lady who checked us in could not have been more helpful. Bright and dedicated to doing a good job, she oozed courtesy.
And a few days later when I picked it all up from another helpful young lady — including a baggie with a couple of bucks they’d found in a pocket — I could not have been more impressed. It was all folded neatly, bagged and washed with hypoallergenic soap, just like I use at home. Love you, Laundry Lounge!
When I got the 85 pounds of clean laundry home, I had my kids haul it upstairs so I could sort through what needs to be passed on to smaller kids, what needs to be donated and what we might sell on consignment at All Things Right & Relevant. Alas, that was more than a week ago, and I have not stepped into the guest room of despair since.
— Tanya Perez is an associate editor at The Enterprise. Her column publishes every other week on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @enterprisetanya