The Wise Man of the Laundromat

Editors note: I’m going against a promise I made myself that I would not blog about ordinary details of everyday life. But after doing laundry this morning, I decided an ode the Wise Man of the Laundromat would be in order. Please excuse the drudgery.

Pete-in-Exile is forced to frequent a little laundromat in Abita Springs. I don’t mind this, as I can do 3 or 4 loads at one time, cutting laundry time by a good 1/2 or more. It’s not a bad little place. The machines work; it’s 75 cents a load, the building is pretty clean and it’s next to the town library and a stone’s throw from a pizza place, a coffee shop, 2 groceries, and the Abita Brew Pub.

You hang out long enough at one place and you get to know its quirks. The laundromat has maybe 12 washers, regular size, and one of those big honkin’ triple load spin washer jobs. The dryers are all of the huge commercial persuasion that can easily dry two loads at a time.

The thing is, unlike the washers, the 10 dryers are a mix and match of differing brands and models. A quarter gives you so much time on different models, and each delivers a differing level of heat. One dryer might take 6 quarters and 45 minutes to dry a load, one might take two and 20 minutes.

What’s a guy to do? Consult the Wise Man of the Laundromat, of course. See, twice I’ve been in there when this other guy was there doing his laundry. He stands around, chain smokes, has 5 or 6 machines going at once, and is quick to tell all comers about his laundry life, and to share his bottomless knowledge of the machines.

The first time I saw him he pointed to the most decrepit of all the dryers. It’s a beaten, scratched and rusted monstrosity. Whatever paint or decal that once displayed its brand name has long since been obscured. It is truly out of place among the shiny Dexters and Maytags, and would be the last one to be chosen by any sane laundry-doer. The Wise Man of the Laundromat knows better. “That one lasts the longest and runs the hottest. You put your towels in that one. Or jeans. It works good on a load ‘a jeans.”

He was right. Every time since then I’ve been sure to use that dryer; inevitably, no one else does. It kicks ass but you’ve got to keep checking it. Once the clothes get dry, they get really hot.

Today the wise man was there and talkative to the point where ignoring him and putting on the MP3 player and zoning out while waiting would have been rude.

“I’ve been coming here a year and half—sometimes three times a week,” he said. “She don’t never do it.” He didn’t explain whether she is his wife, daughter, girlfriend or mother.

Although today he had dibs on the kick-ass machine, he still didn’t hesitate to share his knowledge of all the dryers in Abita Land. He stopped me as I started putting clothes in one of the nice new Maytags. “If you wait a minute I’ll be finished with this one,” he said, fishing clothes out of an older-looking Dexter model. He dumped them into a basket. “I ain’t foldin’ these—them’s hers.” Getting back to the dryer, he told me, “That one looks good, but it don’t run hot.”

Alas, the Wise Man of the Laundromat will soon be no more. “I got a new place up north…” (I’m thinking—Alexandria? Monroe? Even further? No.) “Out by Folsom. I’m gettin’ a new washer dryer delivered in two weeks. Guess who’s ass is gonna be doin’ the wash?” It’s only fair, he says. “She takes two baths a day and uses two towels every time. She changes clothes every fifteen minutes. And she keeps the dogs clean. Which uses even more towels.”

Now, I don’t think the Wise Man of the Laundromat was joshing. He did have two full loads of towels tumbling around (one in the kick-ass ugly machine, of course) and let me tell you, they were all sparkling white. What’s his secret? Guess what—I don’t really care so I didn’t ask.

But it is for me to pass down the wisdom of the laundry. The next schmuck I catch putting a load into that no-good Maytag will be told of the Hierarchy of the Machines. Once I get my clothes out of the ugly dryer, that is.

One Response to The Wise Man of the Laundromat

  1. on May 10, 2007 at 9:42 pm

    Sounds like Ignatius Reilly would do his laundry there. How AWESOME!

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