http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2009/01/02/diablo-views-life-at-the-laundromat


DanvilleSanRamon.com

Column - January 2, 2009

Diablo Views: Life at the Laundromat

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

ALAMO LAUNDROMAT, DEC. 27 - The day after the day after Christmas found me at the Laundromat in Alamo, the one near Rotten Robbie's, the 7-Eleven and Alamo Bicycles. I had to use the giant washing machine - the one that takes comforters.

Why the sudden need to wash a comforter? Ask Misty. My daughter Zoe brought her cat Misty to stay with us for a few days before Christmas and apparently she didn't like being left in the guest room for too long - or perhaps she didn't like sharing the house with our cat Bob - or maybe she was just feeling ornery. For whatever reason, she decided to pee on the bed.

Luckily Zoe discovered the accident (the intentional?) soon afterward and the damage was limited to the comforter and a pillow. The pillow I put into my own washing machine and, despite the horrendous thumping noises and problems keeping it evenly distributed with the towels, it came out pretty well. But I didn't want to further challenge my washing machine with the comforter.

It was interesting to be in a Laundromat again. My first experience was in high school when the family washing machine broke, and my mother asked me to take a big load of towels to a neighborhood Laundromat. Of course, I first drove to the other side of town to pick up a girlfriend to keep me company. We figured out how to wash the towels and put them into a dryer. Then we took a walk around the strip mall, visiting different shops. I didn't notice that I removed fewer towels from the dryer than I had put in. But my mother sure did.

Later there was a time when I was a frequent visitor to Laundromats. Like during the first few years we were married, still in college. After that, when Jim was in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and stationed outside Marysville, we lived in one of several small houses that an enterprising rancher had moved onto a few acres of land. Each house had a screened-in back porch, and the landlord was proud to provide each of us tenants with a washing machine. Unfortunately they were vintage 1940 (1930?) and the washing machine was only partly automatic. Buttons had to be pushed for each cycle, plus the clothes had to be physically put through a ringer after the wash cycle and after the rinse cycle. Perhaps this was standard procedure for my grandmother but after one try, I opted for the local Laundromat, where I could wash, dry and fold our clothes in one hour.

Fast forward to the birth of our son, when disposable diapers were also in their infancy. We decided the time had come to join the ranks of grownups and buy our own washing machine. I didn't see any need for a dryer for a few years but now I can't remember why. Yes, it's pleasant to hang out clothes on a beautiful sunny day but there's nothing like a dryer for convenience.

Anyway when I arrived at the Alamo Laundromat last week the big washer was free, luckily, so I crammed in the comforter and inserted 25 quarters or $6.25. I noticed that the smaller washers cost $2. A middle-aged man was reading all the directions carefully before placing in his eight quarters. He volunteered that his washer was broken and that he hadn't been to a Laundromat in 30 years, and that even then someone else had actually done the wash.

I am happy to report that the Alamo Laundromat is a good place to use a laptop. There is even a convenient plug in case your battery runs low, although I didn't test it. When I logged on, I received a message that one or more wireless connections were available but I didn't try that out either.

Drying costs 25 cents for four minutes; I don't know how the manufacturers arrived at that length of time. I sat down in a spot where I could keep an eye on my dryer. Even though the other people looked honest I wasn't about to tempt anyone to take my comforter - not while it's so cold at night. My mother would be proud to know that I learned my lesson.

-Dolores Fox Ciardelli can be e-mailed at editor@DanvilleWeekly.com.

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