One Quarter At A Time.


It must be laundry day for her too...

It must be laundry day for her too…

The apartment complex decided to raise the cost of a load of laundry by twenty five cents. Big deal, right? In the grand scheme of things, the cost of a load of laundry going up by one quarter isn’t the biggest problem facing the world today, but it still sent me into a rage.

I know that I’ve complained in the past about hating doing laundry. For a while, I thought I was actually getting over that a bit: if I limited myself to only two or three loads (instead of four or six) then I could usually handle the task without any undue hatred.

But it turns out that no, those feelings aren’t gone, just cunningly disguised somewhere beneath a surface feeling of calm and it only takes a small obstacle in the laundry-task to bring them up.

Doing laundry on the weekend is always an exercise in frustration. Everybody is competing for the machines and I failed to get an early enough start to get in before the rush began. Two of the three washers in the nearest laundry room (the one in our building) were in use. The third was labeled with a sticky note saying “Broken: Don’t Use”. I walked over to the neighboring building in the complex where I have often done laundry on busy days. Two of the three washers were in use. The third was empty, but the two women there told me that it too was broken. So I walked to the third and farthest building in the complex and found it mercifully empty, only to discover that the cost of a load of laundry had gone up.

The part that bothers me is that the laundry machine company had clearly made a trip out to change out all the coin trays so that they now require six quarters per load instead of just five; but failed to service any of the machines whilst they were in the area. So not only am I paying more for the exact same equipment, but I’m getting worse equipment for my money.  And it probably has something to do with the cost of water since it was only the washers that went up in price, although the apartment complex is now also charging us for water on a monthly basis so we have the privilege of paying twice.

I was very ready to punch something. But I didn’t.

On the one hand I feel stupid about getting so angry about something as small as laundry, but on the other hand I can understand why it happens: it is about control. Laundry is something that I feel like I should be able to control, and days like today remind me that my power is so very minimal that it might as well not exist. If they raise the cost of laundry, what am I going to do? Go somewhere else, pay just as much and add the cost of time and gas? Do laundry in the pool and hang it out to dry on the tree in the courtyard? So I go along with the incremental price increase because it’s easier to go along with it than to make a big change. And then another incremental change happens, and another and another until I find myself living in a place that I don’t recognize as a place that I want to live anymore.

And if it can happen on a laundry level, what is happening on the macro-level with an America where college tuition costs more than a house and healthcare is so expensive and the bureaucracy so byzantine that people would rather wait to get really sick than venture into the quagmire, and minimum wage is so low no one can live on it and women and minorities are STILL fighting for equality?

Well. I can see where it starts. One quarter at a time.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on February 20, 2016.

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