Saturday, June 15, 2024

Life's Little Injustices (Take XXIII): The Flooring Crew Cometh (The Laundry Room Closeth)

<"This Laundry Room Closeth -- TIll Further Noticeth"
The Reckoner>

"This story has just begun,
So please tell me, if I'm wrong...
It takes one hand,
To wash the other..."

--Prince Buster,
"One Hand Washes The Other" (1962)

Just when I thought, "I'm done writing about laundry rooms, thankfully," what happens? Almost on cue, another issue pops up The minute you tell yourself, "I won't do X, Y or Z," that's when you jinx yourself, and wind up doing X, Y or Z, all over again.

You'd think I'd have learned my lesson by now, right? No dice, apparently, because this is the third piece I'm dedicating to the subject. There's a reason why Sean Connery titled his one-off Bond comeback vehicle, Never Say Never Again (1983). Enough said about that one!

Still, the power of repetition is an awesome thing. I'm remined of a quote attributed to Lorne Michaels, the man who gave us "Saturday Night Live," whenever his cast -- or the critics -- griped that all those repeating characters and bits were making the show feel stale. His response mantra went something like this: Do something once, it's unique; twice, it's a runner; three times, it's an institution.

So goes our latest laundry room tale Last month, management at our apartment complex announced the temporary removal of our washers and dryers, so it could redo the floor. Hence, the laundry room would close, from Monday through Friday. No worries, the notice reassured us. The machines will be reinstalled by Friday.

I had various editorial projects going on, so I didn't feel overly concerned. At worst, I thought, they'll miss the Friday target, but we'll get our machines back on the Monday. No worries, right? I should have known better, of course. By Monday afternoon, The Squawker began to voice considerable angst about that ever-growing, Great Big Massive Clothing Mound -- from bed sheets to clothing, dish clothes to wash clothes, and towels to T-shirts -- rearing its ugly head from the confines of our cobalt blue laundry cart.

I duly headed upstairs, and took a look, though it seemed funny that we hadn't been officially informed yet. Hmm, I thought, don't they usually send us some type of notice?

Sure enough, the minute I padded upstairs, I saw some type of brown vinyl flooring in place -- but no machines. Needless to say, this news didn't play well, when I informed The Squawker of these developments.

"How the hell are we supposed to get our laundry done? I'm almost out of clothes already, and it's not even the weekend!" The Squawker railed, as mere impatience yielded to the throes of sheer bloody frustration. "What the hell do we do now?"

I suggest heading down to Beacon Laundry, a mere 10-minute drive away. With a nod from Squawker, I load the Great Big Massive Clothing Mound into our van, and take a notebook -- the better to jot down some reviews for my 'zine. It'll drain a couple hours of my time, plus a chunk of my wallet, my brain tells me. But it sure beats the alternative, right?

<"We're Sorry, Maaan -- We're Really, Really Sorry..."
The Reckoner>

Well, sort of, as it happens. Beacon is actually the result of a sale, having opened as Whistlestop Wash, back in 1959 -- as one glance at the Art Deco-style, boxlike building will instantly tell you. I'd used it from time to time, whenever I couldn't access our own laundry, but in recent years, I'd begun avoiding the place, honestly.

The fiftysomething female manager in place at the time seemed burned out and embittered by the tight-fisted management, and I found the kiddie-level metal chairs and tables -- which screamed of the Jack Webb era of TV -- too unforgiving and uncomfortable to tolerate using. As a result, I often wound up working on projects in the van, which is hardly ideal when you're trying to keep track of your laundry.

In contrast, Beacon beams with the reassurance that only a business sale can bring, from the Sesame Street-ish primary colors that dominate its repainted interior, to the glowing silver facades of its latest, greatest machines. Gone are the kiddie-level tables and chairs, though their replacements feel only slightly more comfortable.

It's also incredibly, maddeningly, all too typically, bloody expensive. Two and a half hours later, I finally return home, about $40 poorer for my efforts -- or about double what it costs to clean the Great Big Massive Clothing Mound at home. 

<"To Whom It May Concern..."/The Reckoner>

Week Two passes by, at first, with nary a word from management. For The Squawker and myself, it's a worrying development, since money's thinning on the ground. And neither of us wants to repeat the $40 experience that blew such a large hole in last week's budget.

Come Thursday afternoon, there's still no sign of those elusive machines. Every day, I troop upstairs, and do my dutiful due diligence, but it's not a quality that seems to make the machines return more expeditiously. Quite the opposite, in fact. Or so it seems, anyway.

"The hell with it," snaps Squawker, when I confirm -- yet again -- that our washers and dryers have yet to return. "Why don't you call them, and find out? Call them. I can't go another weekend without my clothes!"

I don't need to hear that request twice! "And we can't get by for another week, dropping 40 bucks," I agree, and begin dialing.

I don't reach our manager, who's taken the day off. However, her fill-in promises to get the answer, and proves as good as her word -- five minutes later, the phone rings again. "The machines are definitely being re-installed tomorrow," I'm told. "No ifs, ands, or buts. That's what we've heard."

The Squawker makes a skeptical face. "What makes you think it'll happen this time?"

"Well, in part, because I don't have a choice," I answer. "We have to believe, since I can't part with 40 bucks this week, anymore than I did last week. Time will tell, basically." 

And indeed, it does. Friday (Week Two) rolls around, and indeed, the machines are back in place, as if the whole debacle had never happened. 

Hang on, though. There's just one more sting in the tale, as I learn later that afternoon, when I've finally finished the Great Big Massive Clothing Mound.

I've just finished taking out the trash, rolling our 39-gallon container across the concrete. It's an eightysomething degree day, so I pause, and sit down in the second car, and let the sweat roll off me. Just then, our manager pulls by, and stops. "Did you get my message?" she asks.

"Yeah, your cohort passed it on," I nod. "Thanks. What was the problem, exactly? I mean, from looking at the walls, all they had to do was re-connect the machines..."

The manager pauses from petting her dog in the back seat. "They just kept ignoring me, so finally, I had to get Corporate involved, reach out to their corporate..."

"I see. Well, even then, it shouldn't have taken quite that long..."

"Well, see, that's the thing..." The manager frowns, and purses her lips. "The machines were here, the whole time."

Now it's my turn to screw up my face into a frown. "Say what? You're kidding me!"

"No, I'm not," the manager responds. "But see, the maintenance guys can't even touch the machines, under our contract..."

"Oh, yeah, sign of the times. I get that. Well, better than late never, I guess..."  I shrug. "Thanks for your follow-up,  though."

"Have a good weekend!" And with that, our manager shoots off, as ready to start on her weekend. Or, at least, as ready as anyone can be, after (finally) getting off at the princely hour of seven o'clock! 

So runs life in the corporate outsourced technocracy we call America today. Pass the inefficiencies onto the customer, with a side of legalese to go, if you please. Ah, well. Maybe I can get a jump the laundry before that Great Big Massive Clothing Mound rears its ugly, unwashed head once more. --The Reckoner

Links To Go (So Hurry Up,
As You Rub-A-Dub-Dub...)

Dead Milkmen: Laundromat Song:

Pretenders: Watching The Clothes Go Round:

Prince Buster: One Hand Wash The Other:

1 comment:

  1. This glitch in the process sounds familiar if one's old enough to remember when a presenter couldn't move their stool onstage even an inch -- without incurring the wrath of the stagehands' union. As for video cams and cables on remotes? Fuhgedaboutit! * Perhaps there's some clause in the appliance warranty that's invalidated if maintenance handles the installation?