My Dirty Laundry

My Dirty Laundry

Note: this is one of those blog posts without a punchline, let alone a solid point. Tonight en-route a six-hour flight, I just felt like writing about the moment that lingers the most from my trip thus far. How’s that for a compelling opener? 🙂

I’m in the midst of a week of business travel and can’t stand to pay in-hotel laundry gouging prices if avoidable. So while staying in Santa Monica, I found a nearby Laundromat in Venice and scooted over mid-day Friday to clean my dirty laundry.

I pull into the parking lot in my Buick rental (an amazingly great ride), with a large Brian and Amy’s Coconut Water (with pulp) in-between my legs while toggling a conference call (using handsfree).

Within ten seconds of pulling into the parking lot, a local Laundromat-goer who is sitting in his parked car awaiting a wash cycle starts yelling at me. Apparently, there’s a special parking protocol that I don’t understand. Thankfully, Mr. Enthusiasm was more than willing to school me.

Cringing, I mute my business call, and feel my annoyance level rise as he continues to yell. “Okay, you got this” I say to myself as I roll down the windows and resist my NYC-instinct to start yelling back. We are in SoCal, after all, and unless the car is in motion there is little justification for hostility.

“Hey bro” I say in my best attempt at California-cool as I pull up my Ray Bans and kinda flick my not-quite-long-enough-to-pass-as-a-surfer-hair “just tell me what I’m doing wrong here and I’ll fix it.”

He looks at me as if I am the biggest idiot in the world (possible) and with an irritated voice and angry emphatic hand gestures instructs me on where to park, in between obvious exhalation and eye rolling, as if to solidify the point that, once again, I am indeed the biggest idiot in the world (moving from possible to probable at this point). He tells me that if my vehicle gets blocked it is my job is to track someone down and get them to move their car for me, which is why I was reprimanded in the first place—I wasn’t pulling my car all the way forward.

Fair enough. His turf. His rules. I’ll follow.

Despite the aggressive greeting, as soon as I walked through the doors of the Laundromat an amazingly unexpected wave of comfort, simplicity, and peace was around me. The quiet repetitive hum of rotating washers and dryers, with the fresh scent of cleaned clothes and dryer sheets, and a comfortable immersion in a toasty warm room that invited me to slow down and linger.

Ironically, Mr. Enthusiasm even ends up becoming quite friendly with me and is supremely chatty—even smiley—once we’re inside, which I also attribute to the healing and equalizing properties of a Laundromat.

Nobody there owned, or at least was using, an iPhone or Blackberry (let’s be real, nobody uses a Blackberry anyways), there was no multi-tasking, and not a single person stared at the dryer trying to “will” the clothes to bake faster. It was chill.

It ended up being like a 90-minute vacation for me. Sitting in a Laundromat. Talking to the locals.

So far this week I’ve been in Dallas for three days, Los Angeles for two, and now I’m off to Honolulu for the final leg of this journey before heading back to San Francisco. Not only interesting travel venues, but I’ve had some great meetings with people along the way and some amazing food to boot (Riva Bella on Sunset—if you’re in LA, totally worth a visit).

Yet, my most memorable experience so far?

The Laundromat.

I don’t even understand it, but it’s one of those things that totally stands out to me. The kind that compels me to write without any particular reason…

~Raz

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