At the Laundomat

In the quiet time before dawn.

I tried to do my laundry yesterday, but when I arrived at the laundromat, it was filled with people and there was a wait for a washer. The idea of spending a few hours among the kind of people who use laundromats on a Saturday morning with their screaming kids wasn’t very appealing to me — I will be the first to admit I’m a snob — so I left, taking my dirty clothes with me.

I drove around all day yesterday with most of my wardrobe in laundry bags in the back seat area.

At The LaundromatI came back this morning at 6:10. What a difference! Not only is the place completely deserted, but it’s spotlessly clean. Sound was the only problem. As usual, the TVs had been tuned to a Spanish-language channel playing what had to be a soap opera. At 6:10 AM. And, as usual, the volume had been set to full blare. I guess they’ll need the volume later when the place fills up.

I dumped my clothes into three washers: two giant front loaders for whites and darks and a small top loader for my throw rugs. I pumped in the correct change — I save quarters in case the change machines don’t work. I added too much soap, set the temps, and programmed a second rinse. Once everything was spinning, I could relax.

But not before I dealt with the TV. The remote had been attached to the wall in such a way that it couldn’t be moved. The buttons were accessible, but neither the volume or mute buttons did a thing. The channel button worked, though. I tuned the TV to an unsubscribed channel and got immediate relief from the racket. Now the Dish Network logo is floating around the screen.

I left my old electric blanket on the counter with a FREE /GRATIS sign on it. Yes, the electric part is broken — and discarded — but the blanket is still warm. Winter is coming. It might mean the difference between a good night’s sleep and a shivering one for someone.

Then I sat down with my iPad to do email, social networking, etc. And finally, this blog post.

I don’t get much down time anymore — you know, the time when you’re kind of stuck somewhere with limited options for things to do. I think I must have planned it that way. Most of us do, whether we realize it or not. Computers have entered every part of our lives. When I’m working on a book, I’m usually sitting in front of two of them. There’s another laptop that seems to live on my dining table. I’m seldom more than a few feet from my smartphone, which is so much more than my primary communication link to the rest of the world. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I sleep with both my phone and iPad beside me. I can’t imagine reading a paper book or doing a crossword puzzle with a pen before sleep time. And how else could I check the weather and my email before starting my day?

I have become a slave to my computing devices.

For a few moments here before I reached for my iPad, I got a sense of what I was missing. It came to me in the sound of the washers I’d called upon to work for me. In the two flies who found me quickly in this big, otherwise deserted room. In the light to the east, silhouetting the thin clouds on the horizon. The world around me, so often ignored.

For a moment, it inspired me to write this blog post. But as I began to type, it was lost, hidden away by my concentration. It became more important to me to report on the laundromat experience than to actually sit back and experience it.

I’ve shifted my clothes from washers to dryers. I’m hoping 30 minutes is enough. It’s 7 AM and I need to be somewhere with my motorcycle by 8 AM. Rush, rush, rush. Between periods of interacting with computing devices, I always seem to be rushing around. Why?

I’m often critical of the people who don’t seem to do anything with their lives. I say they don’t “get it.” but maybe I’m the one who doesn’t get it. Maybe just sitting and watching life go by is the “right” way to take this journey of existence. Maybe my constant pursuit of new skills and goals is just a futile attempt to avoid the inevitability of the simple reality: none of us really matters in the grand scheme of things.

I hope not.

3 thoughts on “At the Laundomat

  1. Ahhhh, yes.

    I’ve never been able to just live in the moment. My mind cannot stop. I cannot just sit unless I am reading, typing, listening, writing, or watching. Sitting with nothing but I won brain is torture for me. (My one attempt at a “relaxation/meditation class was torture!) I need to be looking forward to the next thing and I need to be focused on something unless I’m asleep. Otherwise, I’m bored and discontented.

    At some point I stopped listening to people who insist it is a necessity of life and learned to just accept that I am not like them. People are born with different talents, characteristics, and personality traits, therefore insisting what works for one person is necessary for all is inaccurate.

    I can waste time really well though. Not all that focusing is on anything productive or especially useful, but that’s okay too.

    There is not only one valuable or rewarding way to live a life. One person’s style is not superior to another. Judgment against others for not sharing our values in regard to how they spend their time, what they want to do for a living, or for not sharing our needs is merely our own ego. When all is said and done, at the moment we draw our last breath and leave this life, we are no more important than the next person regardless of who they are or what they’ve done, and no matter what our accomplishments or lack of them. The universe is not impressed.

    • I also can’t sit still and do nothing. Even when I just take a moment to observe — as I did in the laundromat that morning — I feel an uncontrollable urge to document it on my blog. It’s a curse.

      You’re right though: there is no right or wrong way to live life. It’s different for everyone. I just can’t understand how some people can make the decisions they do.

What do you think?