Next to the social media, the Laundromats in the island are the most wonderful sources of the latest gossips, scandals and updates about anyone in the island. I chose date nights at the Laundromats on weeknights as the weekends are usually crowded until the morning hours.
I am not one of those who just drop off their dirty laundry and pick it up all sparkling clean a few hours later. I am uncomfortable with the thought of other people folding and touching my clothes, including intimate pieces.
I like studying people while doing my laundry under the pretext of playing games in my phone.
There are all kinds of people who use the Laundromats. For one, Laundromats are all, if not all located right next to a poker parlor and for us who don’t play poker and a lot of people just drop their laundry in the machines then leave them as they gamble the rest of their laundry quarters away and forget about their clothes while others are impatiently waiting in line to use the machines.
Then there are those who occupy the whole table where people fold their clothes even when their own laundry just started. Other people deposit coins in advance at the dryers to reserve it for their laundry, which they haven’t started washing.
One time I got pissed off and sneakily pressed the ON button when the woman who dropped advance coins was not looking and there was only one piece of clothing in it.
There is the couple who regularly comes in and bickers and shouts at each other like they were at home. Then there is this woman who took off clothes from a washer and dumped them on the floor because she said “I was here first and I was going to use this machine.”
Then there are some who come with a dozen baskets of dirty laundry and three or four kids who chase each other all around the Laundromat, spilling other people’s baskets and soaps. There are also those who wash very little and stay longer than anyone else to use the free WiFi.
In a small island with the power cost so high, not everyone has the luxury of owning personal washer and dryer. A big percentage of the population has date nights at the Laundromat.
For eight years and 10 months, I’ve moved from Laundromat to Laundromat until I found the Winner across from Garapan Elementary School. The best time to do laundry is from midnight to 4 a.m. It is the time when the nocturnal beings convene but still it’s not a guarantee of vacancy.
I’ve heard all stories at the Laundromat—family controversies, political issues, sibling squabbles, who’s dating who and who’s not supposed to date who but they do. Just keep your ears open above the din of the roaring whirring machines. Mishaps also happen in the Laundromat like when I dumped coins into the wrong machine, and poured soap into the machine next to the one I was going to use.
I also have found everything one can find in the Laundromat—coins, pieces of fabric, toys, car keys and house keys, food, dogs, name in and I’ve found it. What I didn’t find was a love life. Otherwise, I would have titled “Love among the dirty laundry.”