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  • suzannenorquist

Living Large at the Laundromat

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

Due to unexpected circumstances, I spent a day at the laundromat near my daughter’s apartment in Philadelphia. Not in the suburbs, but in the city. I would say inner-city, but she assures me that her neighborhood isn’t sketchy, and it seemed alright to me.

As a writer, I took pictures of everything. Someone checking the security camera footage would have found me suspicious. But the camera only served as a canvas for graffiti and place to drape extension cords.

Nothing on the outside tipped me off to the treasure trove of oddities that awaited inside. The door was purple. Nothing better than a purple door.

A young woman, who seemed quite normal, sat outside on the steps. I soon discovered why. On this hot August day, the two fans and air conditioning unit appeared to be inoperable. Good thing I live in New Mexico and know how to dress for the weather.

The walls were covered with seventies vintage posters about keeping the laundromat clean. The cartoon character looked like the guy who explained to school children about the four food groups and how library catalogs worked.

And a rug covered a piece of plywood on the floor. A trapdoor perhaps?

There were normal things too, like magazines and books for people who had forgotten to bring their phone to entertain them while they waited. And change and laundry supply machines.

While there, I had a conversation with an odd man who told me how much he paid for his house (a row house, apparently without a washing machine) and how property values were rising. I kept him talking, because I might write him into a story someday.

Apparently the latest trend in laundry bags are big, over-the-shoulder IKEA bags. Had people stolen them from IKEA? The cute young women with the bags didn’t seem the type. So, I checked IKEA’s website and found them for sale, even listing laundry as a possible use.

I, however, didn’t have one of the handy blue bags. I had a roller cart I’d given my daughter to schlep her groceries from the car to her apartment. A roller cart which sat awfully close to the ground. I had just washed everything. Did I want to roll it for four blocks only inches from the grimy city sidewalks? I lined it with what I had readily available—the giant plastic bag from a Costco sized package of paper towels.

I looked like a bag lady as I pulled it down the street, even if I fit in with the décor of the laundromat.

Finally, I arrived at my daughter’s apartment with the clean cart of clothes. Mission success.

If the washing machine in her new apartment weren’t broken,

and, if she hadn’t gotten the stomach flu while I was visiting,

I never would have had a laundromat adventure.

I take my adventures where I can find them. You never know what will trigger the idea for a story.

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