Those of us with limited social lives have to seek our entertainment where we can. In my case, it's the laundromat. In a strip mall, between a Subway sandwich shop and my favorite Arab-owned Jewish deli, my town's single laundromat thrives as the only option for the washing machine challenged. As laundromats go, it is small and run down, but thanks to new ownership, it is plenty expensive. It's where I go to wash my down comforters and other large items, like car seats and lawn mower attachments.
When the previous owners still owned the place, they had hours you might expect for an establishment of washers and driers. They were open 16 hours a day. 7 AM to 11 PM. You could get in a load of wash at 7 AM and be on your way to work [if it wasn't too far] by 8:15. Or in by 9:45 at night and out before 11 PM.
But the new owner instituted different rules. First he changed the hours. 7 AM to only 10 PM. That was bad enough. But now the last load of the day -- wash or dry -- had to be in the machine by 8:30 PM. If you weren't inside the laundromat by 8:30 PM, you would be locked out because he now has a cleaning crew there ready to shut the place down.
One night I showed up at 8:15 and his crew had already locked the door. They gave me the universal shrug sign to indicate they 1] didn't speak English 2] didn't give a shit if it wasn't 8:30 3] weren't going to open the door for anyone, including a woman who was threatening to expose her 67 year old behind.
I called the owner to suggest he might want to check up on his crew to make sure he wasn't losing even more night business than he already was with his stupid new lock out procedures.
Out of spite and having way too much time on my hands, I began to show up every night for a week at 8:25. Yep I washed the same comforter five nights in a row just so the crew couldn't shut down the place at 8:30 and leave. Each night I stayed until ten so they had to wait until I left. I ran the machine twice before putting the comforter in the dryer. Or I put the heat on the coolest setting so it would take as long as possible to dry.
One night someone showed up at 8:31 and they wanted to send them away. I said, oh no, they're coming in.
Another night, the crew got tired of waiting around and left with plans to come back to close up at 10 -- the way it should be. Before leaving they made me and another patron who beat the 8:30 deadline promise not to let anyone else in. At 9, we let in a guy who only had to dry a load of clothes. It took him about sixteen minutes. And he still had almost 45 minutes to spare.
After the fifth night, my comforter needed a break, and I was running out of quarters, so I stopped my personal crusade for a few days. But after a couple of weeks, I was back. Yep, five more days in a row. I brought my neighbor's comforter. I found some of my grandmother's acrylic afghans. I was in for the long haul. And I wish you could have heard the groan when the crew saw me pulling up in my car. One load of wash in the big washer, $5.00. Eight minutes in the dryer, $.25. The expression on their faces, priceless.
The latest -- they're willing to let people in as long as they get there by 9:00 now. I'll have to come back to see if that only happens when I'm there. Or do I have to remind them once again that it's not nice to mess with Mrs. Linklater.