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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Eagle River Laundromat

People who don’t have washers or dryers come here, to this public domain, in order to do their laundry. Pete and I aren’t able to do our laundry at home. We have a $1,200 energy efficient machine sitting in our kitchen addition. It’s been there for six months and is still swaddled in packing plastic. I’m told it runs on 220, and can’t be run on our off-the-grid setup. I don’t know what 220 is, or why we can’t just plug it in and get the ball rolling, but I doubt that Pete would lie to me since he too would rather that we be able to do our laundry at home.

A few minutes ago I put a $20.00 bill into the change machine, and then stood and listened as the coins clanged against the metal base. Doing this always reminds me of being in Las Vegas, except there is no way in which I am going to come out ahead. But then again, I’m not going to lose anything either. This is a comforting thought. I put the money into the slots on the six washers. Pete’s hard-earned money is now going into the hands of the owner, who probably spends his time in Anchorage’s Fifth Avenue Girly Show District and makes jokes about living a clean life.

Pete went and got gas and a paper. Upon his return, he took over, which allowed me to get some work done. It’s a fair trade. He does the wash and I write about it. A sign above me reads “Items must be washed and clean before going into the drier.” Signs like this mean that someone, somewhere, actually did this. For shame. A sign in the Genesis Laundromat in Palmer reads “Don’t Wash Horse Blankets in machines.” Double shame.

I plead guilty on this one. When Katie Long’s horse Delilah died, I out of the goodness of my heart, volunteered to wash her blanket. (This was after Charlene told me that she wanted to give the clean blanket to her mother.) I put it in a plastic bag, went to town, and tossed it into a machine at the Backdoor Laundromat. The Backdoor was then a bit more run down than Genesis, so I was able to rationalize my gesture. Too, my motive was altruistically-based. I wanted both Charlene and Katie to feel better about the loss of their dear horse.

I countered my reoccurring thought that I would not want to be the next customer to use this machine by using soap, lots of soap. And too, it was the concentrated stuff. There were about a half-dozen people in the Laundromat, and a few glanced in my direction as the buckles on the blanket made an audible clanging sound. I ignored them, and continued to read Mark Rashid’s Consider the Horse. The clanging stopped and the red light went out, meaning that the washer had run its cycle. I took it out of the machine, popped it in the dryer, ran my hands in the inside washer, and stuck my head in the machine. It smelled like laundry soap. I left the Laundromat feeling at peace with myself. The machine smelled no worse than before I put the blanket in it. Plus, the blanket was fluffy, warm, and soft to the touch. Delilah, I knew, would have been most appreciative to have this blanket placed upon her back.

I told my friend Brandi about this, to which she asked, “Would you wash your clothes in a machine knowing that someone had just washed a gross horse blanket in it? My answer was no, not if I knew this. But yes, if I had not, with the caveat that I would first make sure that I was using a clean machine.

The question that I’m now considering, as I sit here, is would I wash a dirty horse blanket in a machine if there was a sign telling me not to do this? I don’t have an answer to this question at this point in time. This would depend on many things, including if management was present. Like many things, this is a gray area. What goes around comes around. I’d like, when I go to these places, for my whites to come out white. But they never do.