I always go to the laundromat when our quilts and blankets need washing. My old washer and dryer would surely give out with those heavy loads. I recognize that I am fortunate to have a washer and a dryer and that many are not so lucky.
I sat in the car for a minute and watched as a couple came out of the laundromat with brightly colored laundry bags that were well-suited for regular trips to do laundry. I heard loud music thumping in the car next to me. I felt like a stranger here.
Taking a deep breath, I got out of the car and carried three large quilts in my arms. I dragged a black trash bag with three more blankets in my left hand while trying not to drop the laundry soap. My keys were in my pocket and a twenty dollar bill was in the other pocket. There wasn’t much parking available and the distance to the door was further than it seemed. I should have made two trips. I felt like a novice here.
A tall black man laughed good-naturedly as he opened the door for me. He said he thought I was going to “push” when the door said “pull.” He was right. I thanked him for his kindness. I imagine it was quite a sight to see an oldish white woman struggle across the parking lot like she knew what she was doing.
I wanted to be unobtrusive (invisible?) in this space where very little English was being spoken and where no one looked like me. My awkward entrance took care of that! I picked two washers at the end of the row. My eyes got big when I saw it would cost $7.00 per load. 56 quarters. I tried one change machine and it didn’t work. The manager came up behind me and said, “Try this one. It works better.”
Soon the blankets were swishing in suds and I retreated to my car to read. I set my timer for 28 minutes. I was reading about phonemic awareness when the timer went off.
Without realizing it, I selected dryers that put me directly between a woman who was folding her laundry right as she was getting ready to pull another load out of dryer 39. Her children were playing nearby. I apologized and tried to move out of her way, but she said it was no problem. Dryers 41 and 42. I needed to remember those numbers so I wouldn’t embarrass myself by losing my laundry. I tried to hurry and fumbled with the quarters in my pocket. “Okay, 30 minutes for each dryer should do it,” I thought.
Quietly, I heard a prompt from behind me, “Estart,” she said kindly. As I pushed “Start” I realized she understood I felt like a foreigner in this space. She was welcoming me and I am grateful.