My generation talks a lot about paying for experiences rather than paying for things. I like this idea. Memories last a lifetime, if you’re lucky, and things tend to end up in the back of your closet covered in newspapers or magazines or whatever else piles up all over houses. Experiences are great. You can go to a new place, learn a new thing, take pictures to post on social media and make your friends jealous, etc.
Well, this week, I paid $36 for the experience of having a stranger do my laundry.
(the person who took my laundry did not look like this)
Confession: I really don’t like doing laundry. It’s time consuming and, with the way my body tends to (not) work, often ends up being totally exhausting–to the point where it’s usually the last thing I do in a day because the time everything is schlepped around, switched, folded, hung, etc, my shoulders and hands have essentially stopped functioning. But hey, doing laundry is part of that whole “be a grown up” thing, and I don’t think anyone’s done my laundry for me since I was 13 and deemed tall enough to reach the machine (although I will 100% shout out to my mom for collecting all those quarters for me to fund my college laundry experience; thanks mom!), so, since I don’t have live-in laundry at home, it was off to Google I went to find a laundromat that was in the vague vicinity of my commute so as to not spend more time away from my very hectic dog, who tends to get all sorts of wonky when left on her own for too long.
So, with my grown-up to-do list in hand, I put my laundry in my car and headed out. Also on the to-do list was to drop off the dry-cleaning (because Husband tends to spill things on nice clothing), so I found a laundromat that is also a dry cleaner. Huzzah, Google. So, in I stroll, Husband’s dry cleaning slung over my shoulder because I am a High-Powered Business Lady In Charge Of My Life And Definitely Not a Crazy Person, and am chatting with the lady at the counter when I see a sign for valet laundry.
“Hold up,” I say to Lady Behind the Counter. “What does ‘valet laundry’ mean?”
Looking at me as if I am a complete plebeian, Lady Behind the Counter says, “You leave your laundry with us, and we do it for you.”
Hold. The fucking. Phone.
I can give my laundry to someone else? I just leave it with them, and then I come back and it’s…done? Just like that? Like magic? This is a thing that normal, non-celebrity people can do?
WHERE HAS THIS BEEN ALL MY LIFE?
So, barely containing my ecstatic joy, I scamper out to my car, grab my overflowing laundry hamper, and then stagger back to the laundromat, because it’s hard to scamper when you’ve got a giant fabric hamper over your shoulder. But inside, I was scampering indeed. I plop my giant bag o’ laundry on the little scale, stagger a little bit when I realize it’s 26 pounds of laundry (Sidebar: WTF HOW DID I GENERATE 26 POUNDS OF LAUNDRY?), and Lady Behind the Counter breaks out a calculator and gives me the number: $36 for the valet service.
Now I’ll be honest. I’m an unpaid intern. I’m living this summer off savings, some writing commissions, and my A+ hustling skills (that last one’s a joke, dad, I promise!). I’m budgeting out everything from groceries to meds to dog food. Do I have really have $36 to spend for someone else to do my laundry? Not really.
But here’s the thing. I could have just gone back to the laundromat after work and done my laundry like I planned. So that’s probably $5 worth of quarters, not actually a big deal. But then I start thinking about the rest of it: two to three hours in a laundromat is two to three hours away from Sammi, who tends to freak out when left by herself for more than 4 hours at a time (a topic for another day), which means two to three hours anxiousness worrying about what she might do to the house while I’m gone. Then there’s the night of escalated pain levels that always accompanies long periods of time doing a repetitive motion (for example, folding lots of clothing), especially when this comes after a day of sitting in an uncomfortable chair or crouched on a floor. Then there’s just the plain old fact that I am so ridiculously tired after a day of hearing about trauma and pain and fear and anger from some of the sweetest kids on the planet, and I seriously just do not want to deal with laundry right now.
So, do I have $36 to spend on someone else doing my laundry? Nope.
Did I care?
Hell to the no.
Reader, I dropped off that laundry so joyfully I can’t even put it into words, and when I came back at the end of the day, there it was. Washed! Dried! Folded! And the things that are supposed to be hanging up? THEY WERE HUNG UP. I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THEY DID THAT.
Look, I’m going to be honest here. It takes a definite amount of privilege to be able to write a post like this. I’m not going hungry because I did this, though I’ll probably be skipping a grocery trip next week. I’m not losing any sleep over this financial decision, and I know I’m extremely lucky to be able to do it. And I acknowledge all of that, and am so super thankful that I’m in the place that I’m in.
But mostly, I am just SUPER FUCKING THANKFUL that someone else did my laundry.