Monday, March 16, 2009

The Unspoken Rules of the Laundry Room

Living in New York City has its benefits. In fact, there’s about a million of them. Being able to find a cool new bar by taking a different route home from work, breakdancing buskers on the subway, the sidewalk waffle-stand down on Fulton Street, 4 AM closing times… the list goes on.

‘Course, as with anything, where there’s good, there’s bad. Car alarms going off at five in the morning, the parade of weird smells, street mimes… and the fact that you’re living in close proximity to eight million other people. Close enough you can figure out the plot of the TV movie they’re watching and if they overcooked dinner.

The only way to survive this proximity is rules. Hard and fast rules that you can’t mess around with. Like only snag your neighbor’s newspaper if it it’s been there over a day. Like don’t listen to the same Hall & Oates song for six hours straight. And if you have a party, make sure and invite your neighbors or you’ll get a noise complaint in the first five minutes.

And then there’s a special set of rules that come into play with the laundry room because, let’s face it, that’s your most likely place to be forced to spend time with your neighbors. First place I lived in town only had two washers and two dryers, so you can bet we had to make up some stringent rules. Especially for Sunday night, humanity’s naturally designated Laundry Night.

Now, due to a recent case we were out on, I had to enlighten my man Esposito on the basic rules that come into play in the sacred confines of the room of laundry. As I explained to him, you leave your laundry in a dryer after it’s done, you’re giving the next laundrygoer free reign to place your clothes into a basket. It’s all part of the unspoken agreement we sign when we stick our quarters in and press start. That agreement’s the only thing keeping Manhattan from descending into anarchy, ‘cause there’s only so many machines to go around.

I mean, there’s no bigger buzzkill than lugging your laundry, your detergent, and everything else all the way downstairs to find every single machine occupied. It’s enough to make a hardworking city employee pull out his badge and commandeer ‘em. Not that I’m speaking from personal experience. Just putting forth imaginary scenarios, shall we say.

Anyhow, after this yet another day of serving the public interest, I headed home… and, of course, realized I had to do laundry. Put a couple of loads in, then flipped around stuck them in the dryers. After that, got caught up in doing some work and forget to head down on time. Okay, truth be told, I was hooked on finishing Castle’s WHEN IT COMES TO SLAUGHTER –the book has a killer scarecrow, okay?

Anyhow when I finally went downstairs, I found my laundry taken out of the dryer, placed in my basket, and folded up neatly. Folded? The rest I get – all part of that unspoken agreement. But folding it? That’s just too damn weird. Scary even. It’s enough to make a man consider dry-cleaning. Or at least just wearing the same pair of boxers couple days in a row.

…okay, so maybe that killer scarecrow got to me a bit.

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