I had just finished washing and drying my clothes in the machines that my building’s apathetic management provides for us lowly tenants to do their laundry in. And now while in my apartment folding and putting them away I can smell a rather strong aroma of musky cologne, a scent that I neither wear nor want to wear, coming off of my supposedly clean clothes. Apparently the swarthy dark haired gentleman from down the hall, the one with the unbuttoned to his navel polyester shirts and gold chains, that reeks of this same fragrant aberration and who must use it by the gallon on a daily basis, has contaminated the public domain of the laundry room and its appliances and I have fallen victim to his odorous indiscretion!
Not that this is by any means the most disgusting aspect of doing laundry on the premises and rather than drag it the two blocks over to the laundromat on 3rd Street, which, believe it or not is guilty of much worse infractions of the public health code, I have grown accustomed to such atrocities and endure them like I do every other malady that living here seems to accost me with. Most of the time just going into the laundry room is bad enough with the perennial flooding forming the mounds of discarded lint into small islands so that in order to not get your feet soaked you are forced to jump from one soggy mass to another on your way across this mini trash strewn archipelago to the dryers. And like some advancing armada you are surrounded by a small fleet of those little single serve boxes of detergent that are acquired from the lobby’s vending machines now discarded and floating aimlessly in the tepid sludge.
But even wading in the stagnant mire is preferable to having to use the same washer that whoever it is that seems to be so cleanliness challenged that they leave a grungy ring of dirt caked around the inside of the machine after every time they use it. I might as well just throw my clothes on the fetid floor and stomp on them rather then use that washer because when I have mistakenly in the past, my clothes come out soiled and dingy like I never tried to wash them in the first place, and one can only imagine the state of the dryer after that. Well, you get the idea as obviously it’s a losing battle to try and keep anything clean in this building and for some reason that’s the way everyone seems to want it to be.
Whether it’s a case of misuse, planned obsolescence or a general lack of respect, one machine after another breaks down and sits idle, flooded with sullied water for months at a time and as soon as one is fixed another bites the dust and the process is repeated and played out over and over again – with sometimes more washers to use than dyers. And then the next week just the opposite till you’re just happy that one of the machines is working even with the crud on its rim, and you know maybe that’s the grand scheme of things and you’re just being too naive about the whole affair.
Why I am even the least bit surprised by the laundry room environment I do not know. When all I have to do is walk around and see the same mistreatment of the entire neighborhood. Outside this morning among the other bits of discarded crap there was what appeared to be a well used condom lying on the sidewalk by the street corner. Out of place as a used rubber was just laying there it didn’t faze me at first as I’ve seen a many a strange thing out on the street. But what’s the deal here? Was somebody really fucking right there on the sidewalk in plain view of the whole world and half the commuter traffic going over the Bay Bridge and then just rolled over and left it there? Or did one of my fellow tenants sling it out the window from high above and the wind caught it and deposited it here on the street corner? Hypothetically speaking, in my mind I tend to not prefer the later explanation as it would forever leave me scanning the skies whenever I was entering and exiting the building in fear of being slapped in the head by a used airborne latex cum receptacle. And evidently this concept of discarding even the most personal of items is how everything around here is treated, like one big dumpster. Yet the public trashcans are ignored in favor of the common greater ease of bulk disposability by tossing everything straight onto the ground and into the streets.
Accordingly this adverse external behavior of the local denizens directly translates into their obvious lack of laundry room etiquette that in my building is continually being brought into practice. Where the question of just how long do you wait for your neighbor to retrieve their washed clothing and put it into the dryer or do you remove said clothes to the top of the dryer while you engage the washer instead of waiting all day for someone that isn’t even conscious? When I first moved here I would always sneak a look at what type of clothes they were and not wanting to upset some older woman by having handled her undergarments I’d leave them in hopes that she’d return soon. Otherwise if they looked manly-ish or like some dudes apparel, I’d move them out immediately and continue with my wash. This was of course a wiser choice than leaving my laundry unattended because at first I lost quite a few articles of clothing and more than a few times rode the elevator down while trying to figure out if that nodding dope fiend next to me was wearing my missing t-shirt or do all black pocket t’s tend to look the same in the glare of a hundred and fifty watt anti-crime light?
What finally broke me of the habit of being so overly polite was my then next door neighbor who when she wasn’t partaking in the smoking of crack behind the locked doors of her apartment would be in the laundry room nodding off asleep, her head in the dryer with her generous ass sticking out and that’s how I’d sometimes found her which led to another question: What is the proper way to handle a volatile coming-off-a-run-crackhead that is attempting to either warm herself or steal somebody’s freshly dried garments? Thankfully she’d never be able to fit into my stuff so we never had to broach the subject of whether she was wearing anything of mine. But there were more than a few loud arguments in front of her apartment between the other women who lived on the fourth floor. I’m not saying that that was what they were all about because there was always some sort of altercation going on over there at just about any time of the day or night and other than the often repeated phrase “Bitch, I want my money!” I really couldn’t make out what it was that they were going on about.
Most of this conjecture on my neighbor’s behavior is of course meaningless unless you’re writing your thesis on the exaggerated activities of the crack ho in her natural habitat and I have once again as usual strayed way off from the subject at hand. Laundry, tenant relations and saving the environment all have a productive sort a ring to them but to be truthful it is only a piece of the reality and that socioeconomics tend to govern the behavior and circumstances of the people in my community. But none the less it is still something that we are all forced to deal with on some level and as the saying goes, what doesn’t come out in the wash usually comes out in the rinse.