For the past two weeks, my washing machine has been broken. I hadn’t really realized just how much I truly depended on it until it was not available any longer. Between clothing, towels (for bath, dishes and pool) bedding etc., I must do laundry 3-4 times a week.
The repairman came to the house twice in ten days, each time discovering that he needed to order a new part.
Last week (Friday) I had to give in and take some clothes down to the pay laundry so James could have the clothes that he needed to go away with.
In my naiveté I took five dollars’ worth of quarters, three large loads of laundry, my detergents, stain removers and bleach and headed on down to my local Fluff & Fold (or whatever the name was) to get me some clean clothes!
It has been a while since I have used a public laundry-mat. In fact the last time I used a coin operated machine, was in my old condo. It was $1.25 per load and 25 cents to dry. You can imagine my shock when I found out that each load now costs four dollars and seventy-five cents to wash! On top of that, I was laughed at with my pocket full of quarters. Seems the pay laundry hasn’t used coins in years. They work with the use of a card (like a credit card) that you put money into via a machine using your ATM or credit card. You may use bills too, but nothing smaller than five dollars. You then insert that card into a slot on the machine, and for each load that you do, $4.75 is deducted from the card. To add insult to injury, it costs two dollars just to purchase the card you need to run the machines before you put any money on it!
There was a lovely woman there who was watching as the clerk gave me the instruction. She interrupted and gave me an extra card that she had in her purse (I guess whenever you accidently forget it, you have to purchase another).
In my anxiousness to get to the laundry and get done, I had forgotten my wallet (I know… we had this discussion before! Shame on me! It really is a highly unusual occurrence, although you probably don’t believe it from what you read here).
So there I was with only enough money to do one load. I had the clerk exchange my quarts for a five dollar bill and then started to sort through the three sacks and make judgment calls on what items were necessary to get done and what could wait. Luckily, my dryer at home works fine [knock on wood] so I only had to wash the one load and I was out of there in about thirty minutes.
It really got me thinking though. Isn’t it true that for the most part, the people using the laundry-mats are struggling financially? At least that’s how it is here in South Florida. Everyone with a home has their own washer/dryer and those in condos have wash rooms for convenience with the discounted (coin operated) machines, if they charge at all. It’s the migrant workers, those on Welfare and the underprivileged living in small apartments who rely on these places. I started figuring out that if an average family was somehow able to get away with a mere three loads a week (whites, colors, sheets) it would still run about twenty dollars a week to do laundry not counting detergent & bleach. That’s eighty dollars a month! And that’s really lowballing it. How do they manage?
The whole experience made me depressed. I wondered how one could help these people. It was one of those moments that if I had my wallet with me, I would have transferred a hefty bit of extra money to that woman’s card, before returning it to her. She would not have known it until the next time she went to use it and been so pleasantly surprised. Alas, all I had was the five bucks, so I put it all on there, only able to give her a measly $1.25 for her kindness.
I still remember quite vividly, the days when my own family struggled to make ends meet. My heart goes out to all those people feeling as hopeless now as we did then, and I pray that one day soon, they too will find their life taking a turn for the better. God bless them.
As for me; I am very grateful that my washer was finally fixed today and I have laundry going as I type this Blog!
Until next time,