Lessons from the Laundromat

During the holidays in December and throughout the month of January, I didn’t have a washer and dryer. The only laundromat in town, right by the gun shop and the liquor store, looked like it was last cleaned in in the 1970’s around the time the out of order pink dryers were installed.

The nearest “clean” laundromat in my area is apparently 35 miles away, so one Saturday in late January, I loaded up all the holiday laundry, work clothes, sheets and towels and headed out on a laundry adventure. The laundromat I found was quite fashionable with a growler station where people can get can beer or kombucha on tap. It also had a gas station, snack bar, clean bathrooms, big machines that take credit cards, and a helpful attendant, all of which were really handy.

I wasn’t looking forward to this necessary task, but it turned out to be a fun afternoon. This laundromat seemed to function quite civilly. People quickly removed items from the machines in order to allow others to use them, and everyone said excuse me as they moved their carts of clothes around in the crowded areas. One lady was politely asking others if they had lost an item left in a dryer she was starting to use. I spoke with a very kind man while drying my clothes. The credit card machine on my dryer wasn’t working. When he noticed that my dryer did not work, he gave me $5 in quarters, saying he didn’t need them anymore. He told me about himself and gave me some cool historical trivia about the area too.

As I was folding sheets, a woman in a pink hat who spoke little English, grabbed the other end of the sheet and proceeded to help me. She helped me fold all my sheets. In a silent solidarity of kindness and sisterhood; I felt seen. It made me feel a sense of community. The attendant too, was helpful. He told me the best places to get a washer and dryer, and said to use his name as a reference.

I didn’t expect this kind of situation in a laundromat. I really wasn’t expecting to have fun, meet people, or have a respite from the uncivil world of perpetual bad news that we are currently living in. But I’m not really that surprised. There are good people everywhere who go out of their way to help others. We just have to be them. And when we are them, they are us.

Here are the lessons I was reminded of that day:

1. Practice kind acts wherever you go, especially in places where kindness is unexpected.

2. Find the magic in the mundane, and fun in everyday tasks when possible.

3. Civility is a practice, like kindness. It is not weak or politically correct. It is simply good manners and the best way to treat one another.

4. It is from the common that we find community.

5. Don’t elect people to public office who’ve never used a laundromat.

And finally,

6. Warm, clean sheets, blankets and towels are good for the body and soul.

I have a beautiful red washer and dryer set now. It took awhile to get them, but they are such a wonderful addition to my life and they have warranties. I do not take their wonder for granted.

Living in these edgy times, a little comfort amidst the backdrop of chaos goes a long way.

servant of social good; practical mystic; working to make kindness and good manners popular again.

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