At the Laundromat

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Sometimes, it’s an interesting cross-section of people you can discover at the laundromat. Sometimes interesting is the wrong word.

I don’t do laundromats much anymore, because, with three small children, it was one of our earliest goals after we moved to the small town we’re living in to have our own washing machine and dryer again to make sure that we didn’t have to take those three children to the laundromat once a week for several hours. On a weekend, when it’s crowded, and there are other people, too many other people, trying to use the same machines. And, likely as not, there are a couple of other sets of parents in the same boat.

Our dryer, quite unexpectedly, died recently. Washer still fine, but now we need to wash several loads of laundry and make a trip to the laundromat to occupy a few dryers for half an hour or so. We can bring things home and fold them. Less painful overall, but still not exactly the height of convenience, fiscal efficiency, or human interaction.

Not that most people want human interaction at the laundromat, and I certainly don’t want to most places I go. Let me do my laundry and peace, let me shop in peace, let me stop at the convenience store in peace, let me pump my gas in peace.

I will certainly accept that human interaction with the person who’s checking my groceries or ringing up my energy drinks, or whatever, especially if it’s someone I know, or even consider a friend. That changes the equation quite significantly. But social interaction isn’t my primary purpose for any of those things. I went out to get groceries, clothing, do my laundry, get gas, whatever. Going out specifically for social reasons, that’s a whole different ballgame. Yes, there totally needs to be a little bit of conversational lubricant for any transaction, and we all need the ability to make small talk for those, and I get that maybe some people are looking for that social interaction. Generally speaking, I’m not.

Especially at the laundromat.

However, I would have chosen that over this morning to the laundromat. If there had been a little old lady section of the laundromat, I would’ve gone sat in the middle of that group, smiled, and engaged in whatever conversation they insisted on havingwith me.

That section didn’t exist, not today.

I would have gratefully sat in the middle of the section of screaming kids, because I’ve been there and done that, and I feel the pain, and I could smile and be sympathetic with parents.

That section didn’t exist today.

When I got instead was half an hour spent not far enough from an aging dude-bro on his once a month laundry trip to wash everything he owned, taking up some combination of 10 washing machines and 12 dryers simultaneously, while blasting his music, which obviously should be universally admired. I spent my time reflecting on the society that produces those dude-bros and dude-sisters by the tens of thousands, the self-centered piece of each generation that seems to be growing with each generation, who doesn’t particularly care about anyone other themselves. I’m not interested in painting a whole generation with one brush. This particular dude-bro might have been just old enough to technically be Gen-X, and then there’s the Trump factor.

Sure, dude, sing along. It’s all good.

An old saying, one I thought was a cliché, but that we’re apparently losing: your freedom ends where my nose begins.

Of course, I’m too Canadian to have done more than my roll my eyes repeatedly. And too mature, apparently, to have been passive aggressive on my way out the door.

Be well, everyone.

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Lance
Lance Schonberg is an eclectic genre fiction author with more than two dozen stories published or on the way. 2019 is the year he dives into independent publishing, starting with "Thorvald's Wyrd", "Skip To My Luu", and "Turn the World Around". And he needs a more exciting short bio.

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