This infinite cycle of transforming dirty clothes to clean is the bane of my existence. I loathe laundry. I believe my abomination began as a child. Being the oldest of four children to two working parents, I had to take on much of the domestic duties at an early age. I remember the never-ending process of washing clothes, there would be piles on top of piles and just as your task was ending someone would add another pile. Sometimes you’d run out of dryer sheets and the clothes would be full of static electricity or you would run out of powder, pausing progress.
There was no liquid then. There was only powder. It would spill all over the place or get wet and clumpy in the box. There was no splash-less Clorox and inevitably it would spill all over my favorite jeans destroying them (the acid washed look was out of style). Our dryer was ancient and sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. If the dryer went out, I’d have to hang the clothes outside to dry and without doubt…it would rain. If the dryer worked, it would leave brown marks on the clothes and I would have to wash them all over again. This process went on for years, from my parents house to my own house.
But at last…I have found salvation!
It came in the form of a kid named Hakeem*. Hakeem is a resident in the dormitory I work in. Hakeem has hygiene issues. Hakeem’s room can be smelled five doors down. One day, nauseous from conducting a room inspection in Room 712*, I pulled Hakeem in my office for a heart to heart. I asked him point blank “What’s up with the funk?” He never looked me in the eye and barely spoke above a whisper. “I washed my clothes Saturday but I didn’t have enough quarters to dry them.” I was horrified.
There have been times where in my laziness I have “forgotten” to pull the clothes from the washer and put them in the dryer and I know that after a day, two at the most, they start to smell. By three days they are soured. This was five days later. We went to his room and there under his comforter were the clothes. He tried to hide the smell with dryer sheets but to no avail. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to cry. Hakeem sat on the bed “I don’t have no money Ms. B.” I told him to put every stitch of clothing in his basket and meet me in the laundry room in 30 minutes. I got ten dollars in quarters, some liquid Gain, splash-less Clorox and dryer sheets (they were the store brand-he was getting expensive).
When we met again, I showed him step by step how to do laundry, a life skill he was clearly lacking. I stayed with him through four loads of laundry. We talked very little. I read a book. He listened to an mp3 player. He never looked me in the eye.
That night I taught my boys how to wash, dry and fold. We went through the entire process until I was sure they understood how to do laundry correctly. I don’t want them to be without basic life skills when they leave my home. I don’t want anyone else to teach them what they should have learned from me. I don’t want to ever have to do laundry again.
Hakeem saved me. He saved me from a world of washing and drying and folding. Finally after twenty plus years of serving as the queen of clean (clothes), my reign has ended and I have passed my crown down to my offspring!
*Name/room number has been altered to reserve privacy.