"Fun Times: The Community Laundry Room"

kristopher-roller-199858.jpgI can hear you groaning in agony at the painful words: Apartment Laundry Room!!! I hear ya. First of all, can I have a show of hands of how many of you like to do laundry under any circumstances? Come on, don’t be bashful. I know there are one or two of you out there! Now, and this is getting fun (for me, anyway) can I get an “Amen!” from you on how much you love, love, love doing your laundry in the community laundry room in your apartment building?

Seriously, I lost sleep over this one, pretty much on a weekly basis for years! Lugging a sizeable pile of dirty unmentionables down the hall or up a couple flights of stairs or wherever the laundry room is located, to find out there isn’t a washer available is maddening! So to combat that annoyance, I used to gather up all of my clothes, get them sorted into the proper load, place them in a laundry basket, gather up my coins and laundry detergent and park it all by the door to my apartment.  Then I would make a mad dash to the laundry room to scope it out and see if I had a chance of doing my laundry sometime in the next century.  If the coast was clear, I would sprint back to my apartment, grab the ginormous piles of smelly laundry and race back to the laundry room and hope nobody beat me to it. Amazingly enough, there were several times, even with my expert scouting that I still got shut out by someone else who had shuffled in just before me. When that would happen, I wanted to scream!!!

When this would occur, I would be crestfallen and, if we’re being honest, mad. I then had the joy of dragging my towering load back to my unit to wait out the interloper and their seemingly take-all-day laundry project.  Eventually, I would have the privilege of repeating the process of checking to see if the washers were available again and run back to my apartment and retrieve the massive mess until I was able to get a turn at the washers.

And, for the record, let me ask you this one: How many times have you walked into your laundry room all excited because you couldn’t hear any washers running only to find out that while the washers weren’t doin’ the shake, rattle, and roll, they weren’t really available because they were full of someone else’s clean wet clothes? Is this annoying or what?

What’s the proper laundry room etiquette on how long you should wait before you open the lid of the washer and yank out someone else’s clothes and load your own? Ten minutes? An hour? The next day? I’m sorry to report that I don’t have a cute rule-of-thumb on this one.

I guess how long you wait for the rightful owner to attend to their laundry is directly related to how long you would hope someone else would wait for you to remember you have half your wardrobe down the hall balled up in a wet mass. It also depends on how desperately you need to get your laundry done.

If you do take someone else’s laundry out of the washer, be prepared for potential payback. If the washer just stopped spinning and you pulled the clothes out seconds later, your actions will not be received kindly.  If, on the other hand, you waited an hour or more, I think you are justified. That is just my opinion: nothing more, nothing less.

I guess it all comes down to being respectful of others. The apartment laundry room is a community area and everyone has an equal right to use it. It would just be nice if everyone understood that and honored it. As for me, I knew how long the wash cycle was and always set a timer so I would get back to the laundry room a minute or two before the washers shut off. I did this for purely selfish reasons (not to be courteous, although that was a by-product): I didn’t want anybody else thinking for a second that they were touching my stuff. I just got it clean, and I wanted it to stay that way, so I made sure I never gave anyone the opportunity to put their grubby mitts on my clean clothes.  

By Cindy Mennenga

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