Monday, August 10, 2009


Monday 7/13/2009
3:05 pm 73f slight breeze

A Monday at the Kelso dry cleaning and laundry

I am at the Kelso dry cleaners and laundry. I feed two dollars worth of quarters into a well used speed queen commercial washer. It is warm out side but stuffy and damp in the Laundromat. This place is on its last legs. Some of the washer and dryers are missing fronts.
Half of them are broken. A good number of the fluorescent tubes are gone from their fixtures. Water damaged ceiling tiles hang from the ceiling. The worn floor is covered with a series of randomly placed mismatched asphalt tiles. Broken tiles checker the floor revealing the cement beneath. I sit in a comfortable black plastic lawn chair and wait for my wash to finish. A battered table filled with old People magazines and Christian propaganda pamphlets sits beside my chair. The photo finished faux oak table is adorned with fake brass piping around the edge. Old trophies honoring forgotten achievements line a row of dryers opposite me. My laundromat companion is a small woman. She loads a dryer with wet clothing and a bedcover that looks like it was from a motel six. Her young face is haggard and tired. She wears a pair of tightly fitting faded blue jeans. Chipped nail polish covers her toe nails. Her pink tank top of stretchy material is the top layer of her skin. A tanned back and an exposed flat stomach at the top of her jeans are revealed by the skimpy halter. A man rings the bell on the counter at the dry cleaning section of the store. The bell is answered by an old bull dog and a redheaded teenager who waddles to the counter. He is followed by two men. The man who comes to the counter is wearing an old Grateful Dead t-shirt. The skinny man behind him is wearing a frayed and previously white t-shirt emblazoned with a fad picture of a Trans Am. Tank top is joined by her boyfriend He leans against a broken washer as he watches her finish the laundry. He is thin with a famers tan, deep hollows line his cheeks. His white wifebeater is stained with grey patches. The door to the cleaner opens and a heavy set Hispanic woman enters. She drops off several white dress shirts and a pair of khaki pants to be cleaned. I suspect she is dropping off her work uniform or that of some one she knows. My washer turns off. I unload my wet clothes and transfer them to a speed queen dryer. It is machine number twelve. The dryer is a faded orange which suggests to me that it was new in 1982. It costs twenty five cents to get eight minutes of drying and the dryer sucks quarters like a slot machine. As I wait for my clothes to dry my feet begin to stick to the floor, glued by a mixture of dust, small threads, tiny bits of paper and lint. Another customer comes into the store. The man walks to the front counter and the clerk greets him by name, “William.” William drops off slacks, dress shirts and a sweater. The clerk in the Grateful Dead t-shirt asks, “Will Friday be good?” William says, “Yes, fine.” The men exchange some banter about mowing a yard with a riding lawn mower and with a cold beer in hand while watching a pretty girl in a bathing suit lay out to get a tan. They both laugh. I laugh too. I get up and feed another quarter into the dryer. By now no one else is using the Laundromat. Everyone is gone and I wait for the dryer to finish and sit, listening to the rumbles of the Speed Queen as it competes with the humming and whooshing sounds of the traffic on West Main. The fan on the ceiling above my chair is spinning away, it light sockets empty. I put another twenty five cents into the dryer for another eight minutes of time. I hope this is the last drying cycle for my load of clothing. This is not the Laundromat of my childhood filled with memories of happy times with my brother and mother. This place is sad, worn-out, and used up, just like its patrons. There is no pride of ownership here, just one last desperate attempt to eek out a few more dollars from the poor and displaced. An hour and a half has passed with a lifetime of my memories. I feel the need to get on with the rest of my day and life. An attractive young women walks in to pick up some dry-cleaning. She is dressed in a white hoodie, blue jeans, flip flops and she carries a big caramel colored leather purse. Her blond hair is pulled back in a pony tail; the all American girl. Black t-shirt man hands her a Jackie O type of dress in a subdued Pucci pattern wrapped in clear plastic. While she pays for her service, black t-shirt man talks to her about mowing his yard on Saturday if the weather is good. She smiles and says thank you to the man and leaves with her dress and bright future in hand. My dryer buzzes. I deeply hope my clothing is dry.

1 comment:

Niis said...

Jason, I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog. When are you going to write a book? You express yourself very well not only artistically but in writing.