U is for Underappreciated.
Over the last not-quite-a-year, I’ve found a real appreciation for the humble launderette. Almost without fail, when I mention the launderette, the person with whom I’m speaking has an immediate opinion (almost unfailingly negative), whether or not they’ve actually used one. It’s like jury duty. I thought it was an interesting and useful experience, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Where else will one be thrown in to a room with six utterly random strangers, and expected to negotiate with them over a major decision? We seven formed quite a bond, and remain in touch even five years later. Yet everyone I mention the words “jury duty” to invariably have something nasty to say about it. Even if they’ve never served.
But back to the launderette. Where else can one sit with a book or assignment or letter-writing kit and be completely uninterrupted, while at the same time surrounded by industrious people? The hum of dryers is hypnotically calming. Here one can see a complete view of society, from the renting regulars to the annoyed homeowners with broken appliances? There are children and child-free. Conventionally attractive and interestingly irregular faces. Quiet, loud, reading, interacting, smiles, jokes, shyness, you name it, it walks through those glass double-doors.
I remember one evening where an (obviously exhausted) young father loaded the washers in slow motion. Then he curled up on the folding table with the empty laundry bag under his head. He fell asleep immediately. EVERYONE tiptoed around him. There were looks of quiet remembering on the faces of an older couple. There were quiet smiles. Given a chance to be rude or kind, callous or caring, everyone chose kindness and caring. How can one not love the launderette, when it brings out this kind of response?
No, it’s not all lovely. The willingness to allow that it might be, though, makes all the difference. Like jury duty, and the launderette, enjoyment of daily life requires the willingness to be a happy observer. I could have come blasting through both experiences, impatient to be done with them and on with my “real” life. If I had, I’d have missed so much, including six new friends – people I otherwise wouldn’t have met. I try to remember this during my weekly trip. It makes the laundry baskets lighter, and the trip more interesting. I’m trying to bring that willingness into more areas of my life. It’s like joy. One must choose it, and then keep choosing it.
ps. I love the word “launderette” so much more than “laundromat,” don’t you? I’m adopting it as my default term. I think using a word ending with “-ette” to describe a huge, utilitarian building is hilarious.
I snapped a pic of our launderette, and my husband photoshopped Captain Hammer into it, because he’s awesome like that. You can see Travis’s photography here.
I’m participating in the A to Z Challenge, and you can see the run down and complete list of postings relating to my “Abecedarium of Self Care” here.