Where Socks Get Lost, and Other Life Lessons of the Laundromat

Vicki Lesage
Written by Vicki Lesage

This post is a BluntMoms Rewind selection for 2014. Our writers love this post so much they want to share this with our readers again. Enjoy the awesomeness:

In college I held various part-time jobs to support my jetting-off-to-Europe habit. If only I’d known I’d end up living in Paris, maybe I could have spent my money on kegs like the rest of my friends (don’t worry, I still did).

One job that taught me a lot was the laundromat. Why does a laundromat have employees, you ask, since the washers and dryers are coin-operated and there’s a change machine in case you don’t have coins. Well, Miss Smartypants, who is going to serve you burnt 10-cent coffee? Who is going to tell you to stop flipping the channel on the TV? Who will press the panic button under the cash register in case a sketchy dude comes in, since the laundromat is not in the best part of town?

In this demanding job where I got paid to drink cheap coffee and do my homework, I learned 7 important life lessons, which is 7 more than I thought I would:

1. Socks get lost in the washer, not the dryer. Dryers have gotten a bad rap for years, but each night when I’d wipe down all the machines (good to know they do that, right?). I’d find at least two stray socks in the washers and never found any in the dryers.

2. Clothes get ruined in the washer, not the dryer. People always use heat too high for their fabrics and the cheap top-loading washers twist and turn your clothes in every direction. The front-loaders are more gentle, and if you ensure proper sorting and correct temperature selection, you might not ruin everything you own. If you insist on blaming the dryer for something, file a complaint about melted crayons.

3. If you leave your dryer unattended for too long, someone will come by and empty it. If you’re lucky, they’ll leave your underwear. If you’re me, they won’t. I’m still trying to get over that one.

4. If there is a payphone hidden around a corner, kids will inevitably call 911. Payphone you say? Yes, I was in college a long time ago. Every call would more or less go along these lines:

Me: Hello, Bad Part of Town Laundromat. How can I help you?
Operator: Ma’am, we’ve had another call from your store. Can you please verify that there is still no emergency?
Me: Other than attempted murder of those kids who keep dialing 911?
Operator: [Silence, for a beat] Ma’am, could you please just verify there’s no emergency?
Me: Nope, no emergency here.

Then I’d stomp around the corner where the giggling kids would instantly stop and act like they hadn’t just dialed 911, even though the phone was still swinging off the hook.

Me: If you don’t stop dialing 911, I’m going to tell your mom.
Kids: She ain’t gonna care.

I’d glance at the mom, flipping through a worn magazine, headphones blasting, enjoying a few precious minutes away from her rugrats. They were right.

5. You’ve never seen bad fashion until you’ve seen a transvestite on laundry day. Flowery mid-calf cotton dresses and Keds look good on no one, but especially not a dude. The trench coat doesn’t hide the outfit–it just makes everything weirder.

6. Mr. T has a love child in Columbia, Missouri. OK, probably not (and I don’t want to get sued, so my official stance is “not”) but an adorably tough 3-year-old came in every week with his mom and he looked exactly like a pint-sized version of the A-Team hero. The dad never came in, maybe because he was too busy pitying fools? However, Mr. T did a commercial for a local car dealership. Proves he was in Columbia at least once in his life. Coincidence?

7. People don’t mind spending money on overpriced vending machine snacks and single-serve detergents, but if a washing machine steals one of their quarters, they are livid. Oh, so NOW you care about wasting a quarter? The best is when they’d claim the change machine scammed them.

Lying Liar Who Lies: Hey, I just put a dollar in the machine and this is what it gave me.
[Holds out palm with three quarters and a dime.] Me: Are you sure? That machine only has quarters.
Lying Liar Who Lies: Well then why do I have a dime in my hand?

Can’t argue with that. Especially when you’re in the bad part of town. So I’d inevitably have to fork over their cold, hard cash. Seems like a lot of pride to lose for only 15 cents.

Who knew that some of the best education I’d receive in college would be from the laundromat?

 

About the author

Vicki Lesage

Vicki Lesage

Vicki Lesage proves daily that raising two French kids isn’t as easy as the hype lets on. In her three minutes of spare time per week, she writes, sips bubbly, and prepares for the impending zombie apocalypse. She lives in Paris with her French husband, rambunctious son, and charming daughter, all of whom mercifully don’t laugh when she says “au revoir.” She penned two books, Confessions of a Paris Party Girl and Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer, in between diaper changes and wine refills. She writes about the ups and downs of life in Paris at VickiLesage.com.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

10 Comments

  • Oh Vicki. If only I had known about your shady history as a laundromat employee. I would have never have agreed to have a massive girl crush on you… ALL RIGHT THAT’S A LIE YOU CAUGHT ME

    Great and hilarious post. I think I’m going to start saying stuff like “she ain’t gonna care.”

  • This is great! As a mom who has had to drag her kids to the laundromat….I can totally attest for that poor head-phone wearin’ momma! Naughty brats! LOL And a giant LMAO at the transvestite image you put in my head!

    • Amazingly, it wasn’t just the one transvestite either. You’d think in a town with <100,000 people and numerous laundromats, the chances of seeing more than one transvestite at any particular laundromat was slim. But at least three different transvestites called Sunday laundry day.

  • You’ve answered so many of my questions….all this time I’ve been blaming my dryer for ruining closes and eating socks. Who knew it was the washer?

    I also would have never thought about (1) transvestites at the laundromat or (2) prank phone calls from shit turd kids.

    The best part about this story? You clearly went to Mizzou. Mizzou-rah!

    • Thanks! At the time it was like “So, how does this panic button work again? You know, just in case?” But know it’s like “Damn, I got some good stories out of that.” Worth it.