My Laundromat picks
There are eleven machines in all, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll eliminate the one with two out of three knobs missing, the one with an ominous X of duct tape over the lid, and the one with “brokken” scrawled on the interior of a Milky Way wrapper that for the time being is anchored in place by a penny. That leaves eight units.
Washers two, five, and seven fill up nicely, but will not drain. Use only for clothes that are scuba certified. Allow two months for evaporation.
Washer six will not drain, nor will it relent in filling. On television, flooding appliances make for sudsy fun. Remember that when you’ve washed away a baby carriage because you’ve run out of copies of The Watchtower to sop up the overflow.
Washers one, three, and eight, by contrast, fill with a diffident trickle that clings to the side of the tub. When the water finally dares to make contact with the clothing, it actually bounces off the detergent.
That leaves washer ten, and it’s perfect. I think it’s perfect. Someone else is always using it.
Generally speaking, you can think of these as you would the porridge bowls from “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”—sometimes they’re too hot, sometimes they’re too cold, and sometimes they have food in them. There are eight altogether, and before operating any of these machines, check the tumbler for depleted fabric-softener sheets, discarded scratch-off tickets, and runaways. Peel off a three-pound flap of lint from the filter. Now you’re ready.
Dryers three and four: I’ve learned more about chemistry from these than from any class I snoozed through in high school. For instance, I did not realize that socks could melt or that Levi’s had a boiling point. You might escape with minor scorches if you run these machines for only a few minutes at a time, but I wouldn’t press my luck. You don’t want to be standing there when they finally go supernova.
Dryers one, two, seven, and eight: Room temperature start to finish, these dryers almost seem self-hating. Sure, they rotate, but in the end, all you’ve done is given your clothes a thirty-minute Ferris wheel ride. You can practically hear your boxers say, “Whee!”
Dryer six runs as hot as dryers three and four, but also smells weird. I think someone tried cremating a pet in it, though I could definitely be wrong. It might not have been a pet.
In the end, dryer five will do the job, though the digital minute counter is a little scrambled and makes Arabic numerals resemble Serbian letters.
There’s a pay phone available, though I sometimes have to dig out the 9 button with a car key. Tacked to the wall nearby is a note advising customers to use one of the provided slips to report malfunctions and request refunds. There’s only one such slip, however, and it’s the one on the back of which the note was written. But the owner has gone to the trouble of supplying a pen that’s tethered to the phone cord by a shoelace. You cannot grip it without also touching someone’s teeth marks.
The Ms. Pac-Man screen is a bit gauzy, and the game occasionally hiccups during the second intermission. But it works. The Moon Patrol buggy, on the other hand, will not move to the right, which is where all your antagonists are patiently waiting. Basically, you’re spending a quarter to watch a car idle.
The reading materials are fairly standard—continuing-education bulletins, take-out menus for a place called Guido’s, a stack of flyers targeting non-drug-addicted women aged eighteen to forty-five who might want to talk about their PMS with a grad student. There’s also a study area comprising a gimpy plastic chair and a small table. Some vandal has speculated—on both chair and table—that my mother has nice suckbags.