1.6 Public Laundry Mats

TORONTO, ONTARIO: The sound of your own washer and dryer combo usually means you’ve made it. It also means you don’t have to visit public laundry mats (PLM) anymore. Perhaps it is because I have not made it yet and am justifying my laundry mat usage but they can sometimes be highly entertaining. People take their PLM experience very seriously, whether it is a fight over the last washer, getting upset when another user removes their clothes from a stopped dryer and places them in a wet pile on the folding table or when a client just wants someone, anyone to listen. So I’m sitting there typing away on my computer having just put in a load. A woman I would say was in her forties walks in. You know that feeling when a person enters a room and you feel like something’s off? I had that feeling. She looked fine, dressed nice, well put together as they say. We were the only two in the PLM and she sat down right next to me after placing her clothes in a washer. She didn’t look especially threatening, but still, I waited and was rewarded.

“I can’t believe people sometimes,” she began. “There is an anger problem in the world today – young, old, doesn’t matter. People just don’t want to make any direct connections anymore. They’re too busy talking on their phones, on computers, texting someone that is right in front of them. I mean, who does that? I am a very spiritual person, so I just don’t understand.”

There it is: I get a kick out people calling themselves spiritual but their actions reveal the opposite. She continued, “I didn’t see it before but I see it now. I mean, my parents are dead, my brother’s dead, I’ve had friends that have died. My boyfriend, well, we go to movies and out to dinner but that’s not a way to connect, that’s not spiritual. Sure, it sounds nice but it’s not really. And now he is telling me to grow up, act my age, stop calling him – it’s borderline abusive is what it is.”

I’ve learned more about this person then I want to. “And now I’m looking for a new apartment but everyone lies, they’re all f**king assholes, all of them. F**king old people. I lived with some old people and they stink. Have you ever been living in a house with old smelly people? And I cleaned and they turned down the heat and when I confronted them – them standing there in their Birkenstocks where I could see their disgusting toes – they laughed. It was borderline abusive.”

Very Spiritual.

“And it is all so difficult for me, living in the city. All my friends have three cars and live out in the suburbs. I have just felt so down, I used to give, I used to volunteer in a hospital, knit caps for babies, go to church three times a week, dance – I used to dance and let the positive energy in and the negative out. Dancing is very spiritual. But now everything is gone and no one knows how difficult it is. I’ve just never had to look for an apartment before now. I’ve never been one of them. And everyone lies.”

At this moment, two men enter the PLM and the woman rolls her eyes. “Like these two idiots, now I got to listen to this? Riveting conversation.” Granted, the one was telling the other that he thought the mushrooms on the slice of pizza he had the other day were poisonous – not exactly the most stimulating conversation. But she just had no time for them. I never said a word, she never asked me a question nor did I offer anything. I didn’t have to pull anything out of her, she just kept talking non-stop. There is something I envy about a person who can reveal all this information to a complete stranger – I can barely do this with friends. And then I wondered if she just made the whole thing up – at least the spiritual part.

My laundry was finally done and I high tailed it out of there.