27 October 2008

Laundry wars

By: Jessica B.

When I first moved to Chicago, I lived in a studio apartment that would the equivalent of a dog cage in size – but with a park view. So as I would relax on my bed while watching TV, because I didn’t have luxuries like a couch or chair, I would dream about apartment amenities that would help me know when I “made it” in the city.

The amenities I dreamed of were in this order:
  • Dishwasher
  • Electric stove
  • Bedroom (no more studio living)
  • In-unit washer and dryer
  • Doorman
I’m pleased to say that in my near four-years here, I have achieved three of the five, with the real  “crown jewel” aka in-unit washer and dryer still alluding me. I daydream about being able to lounge around my  home in only a robe, doing laundry so all of my clothes are being washed at one time. That’s acceptable in your home but not out in public (shoot.)
So if I don’t have laundry in unit, that means I hang out with the rest of the people in my building, fighting for three washers and dryers, doing laundry some times at very odd hours. Normally, doing laundry isn’t an issue, but there are some tough old people in my building who like to make it difficult on me sometimes.
For example, in my building we have the beauty of a “free dryer,” which is a dryer that somehow has malfunctioned and doesn’t require change to dry the clothes inside. It’s like a gift from heaven, except that people purposely wait to use that dryer because they get to save $1 in change. And because I’m ridiculously cheap, the free dyer is the greatest thing ever. Sure laundry takes a little longer but it helps me extend my quarter stash a little bit more. So it’s worth it, except when someone starts hogging it. I don’t like that.
I don’t encounter this woman aka “the hogger” often, but when I do, I have to sigh because I know laundry will not go smoothly. She brings her laundry down in plastic bags, which she also uses as rain boots and rain hat. She’ll do a few loads at a time and make sure everyone knows that she has “reserved” dryers ahead of time. Which you can’t do. And she’ll tell me that she’s “reserved” the free dryer already because she’s put money in it, even though her clothes are in the washer. Really? Put money in the free dryer? I smell a liar. Don’t piss on my back and tell me it’s raining honey, I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday.
I recently challenged her on these reservations, saying that she can’t hold dryers and that it’s first come first serve. My laundry was in first so as long as I get down there before her, I get to pick whatever dryer I want to use. She starts getting upset and sputtering at me, telling me that I don’t know what I’m talking about. I try to calm her down, saying I meant no harm (seriously who wants a fight?) but she starts to yell and I opt to back away rather than continue this. Fast forward 32 minutes when my load is done (yes I set a timer in my apartment so I don’t forget or lose my spot for the dryer) and she is WAITING THERE next to the dryer, reminding me that it’s reserved for her. O-M-G are you kidding me?
I realize that she’s older, lives alone and likely doesn’t have anything better to do than to worry about her laundry. I’m sad enough already doing laundry on a weekend night, but you will be proud to know that I was the bigger person….and told her to get the f*ck off the dryer. We were going to do this the easy way or the ugly way.
After a little sputtering and telling me I’m a bad person, she surrendered the dryer and I got to use it for free. A note though, telling me I’m  a bad person doesn’t faze me, that’s like telling me my hair is brown. I know that. 
Please tell me I am not the only person who had laundry-related issues like this?
Reader note:  I really liked everyone’s comments from yesterday. I’m so glad that we’re learning things together. Rebekah’s comment about “save the purse, save the world” made me laugh hysterically and Joy is right, going out with her might melt my brain, but it would be so worth it. I also appreciated the “Sex and the City” movie comments. I really wanted to like that movie, being a huge fan of the TV show, but it fell short for me. Too much product placement, but awesome fashion.


  1. PRUITTVICKI says:

    According to my monitoring, billions of persons in the world receive the mortgage loans from good banks. Thence, there is good possibilities to receive a term loan in any country.

  2. EP says:

    I used the dorm washer and dryer ONCE in college. I found someone dumping my clean clothes on the floor after the washing machine was finished. (There were LOTS of open machines, too, which made it worse!)

    Since then, I've used a friend's W&D or had my own. It was a requirement when I moved here. I would probably yell at the Hogger. I don't deal well with people like that.

  3. Jamie says:

    Wow, good job! I don’t think I could have stood up for myself like that. The Hogger sounds like she’s a bit of a Crazy, and I’d be afraid she’d pee on my laundry or something. The only strange thing that happened to me and laundry was coming home with a new (and foreign) pair of panties, probably left behind when I added my clothes to the dryer. Not as confrontational as a dryer war, but just as scary!

    Athena Valentine, I like your style!

  4. Princess Pointful says:

    You have no idea how much better my life is for having in-suite laundry.
    People just get ugly waiting to do laundry. Like the fact that drying usually takes double the time of washing makes for a huge backlog. Or people who sneak in before you in line for the dryer… sometimes I had to stay up til midnight to get it, or would just string my entire apartment with wet towel. Ughhh. Why do they never purchase enough in an apartment building?

    Now I’m ranting… or the bastard who takes up the only two washers in the building at once?! Should be against the law!

    And you did the right thing. Screw that lady.

  5. Katie Killary says:

    I agree about SATC!

    And do you have a Kathy Griffin quote that I can put up on my quote tumblr with a link to your blog?



  6. Toni-Marie says:

    I have been, there I livedin a house with twelve people and we constantly had the washer/dryer going. People would get in fights, or leave notes taped to it stating they planned on using it between certain hours.
    There was a point at which when both washer and dryer were being used at once, it would cut power to the entire use, and the persone responsible, a polish older housemate, claimed she had every right to have them both going at once and black out the house. No common courtesy, so good on you for giving it too her.

  7. Blaez says:

    i waited 4 hours one day for the laundry machines to come open because someone forgot to get thier shit out of the washers.

    and our last weekend at the condo i went to check on my laundry (to change them over) the washer had 5 minutes to go –wait what? my clothes should be done —oh thier on the dryer! bitch took out my clothes and put them on the dryer. that’s not gonna get her shit dyer any faster! oh i was so pissed off. if joe hadn’t been there–

    stupid idiots.

  8. Sara says:

    Good luck to you…I feel your laundry pain!

  9. Daisy says:

    It sounds just like Rachel in Friends! If only you had Ross there to spin you round in the laundry cart and hug you!! I have never not had a washing machine in my flat… Although I sometimes look longingly at the people in the laundrette opposite who seem to be having a nice time chatting waiting for their things!

  10. ToughGirl101 says:

    It definitely seems like a victory for you! I actually live in town house with a washing machine and dryer in my home, so I’ve never had that problem, but now I’m glad I never did.

  11. Angela says:

    Right on, sister! People need to GET REAL and not think they’re entitled all the GD time. Yes, I said “GD.”

  12. CC says:

    Uh, you ARE the bigger person. As in, she is SO wrong to think she has any right to “reserve dryers” WTF?! Also rude to use 3 out of 3 washers at the same time on busy laundry nights.

    Oh man, I’m NOT excited about having to use a laundry room again. Horror flash backs to living in the dorms. Bonus about living in TX is that most apts. have in unit W/D or at the very least hook-ups.

  13. Wickedly Scarlett says:

    Way to stand up for yourself and your laundry rights!!!

  14. stealthnerd says:

    Omg, I’ve had more laundry issues than I can even count. Seriously–check my blog–half my posts are about the laundry issues I have. I told my bf that when we get married I won’t live anywhere w/o a washer/dryer in-unit. I don’t care if it’s a hovel, I refuse to deal with the laundry room ever again!

  15. Kim & Ryan says:

    Wow… I’m happy to hear you stuck up for yourself. I love that she was waiting by the dryer…

    On the plus side, at least she didn’t take your things out of the dryer and put them on the floor…. that happened to me in college once.

  16. Rebekah says:

    What a crazy! She probably has 36 cats and fills the lint traps in the dryers with fur too.

    LOVE having my house with washer and dryer… everything but the doorman!

  17. Maris says:

    I have a confession.

    A few weeks ago I was home sick so I decided to take advantage of the empty building and thus, empty laundry room. Mind you, I had a fever and wasn’t in a clear state of mind.

    As I was walking down the stairs to the laundry room my bottle of detergent went toppling off of my laundry basket and bounced down the carpeted steps (luckily it was a smaller, super-concentrated size.

    I did my best to clean it up (with towels that were en route to the washer) but have YOU ever tried to clean up soap from carpeting? Doesn’t work well. But I gave it the good old college try.

    Later when I came back down to get my clothes from the dryer I found a nice, note from a friendly neighbor saying:

    “When you spill detergant next time, clean it up. I almost fell and bashed my head in.”

    Oops. But great spelling buddy. And thanks for the anonymous note, so I could apologize. Guess where that note ended up? (Hint: trash in the laundry room).

  18. LBluca77 says:

    I used to have a washer/dryer in my old place and it was great. I could leave my clothes in the dryer for a few days if I was too lazy to put them away.

    That lady sounds like a nightmare. In my building there are only about 8 tenants and 1 washer and dryer, but luckily it has not seemed to be a bit of a problem.

  19. laurwilk says:

    I wish I were as aggressive as you! It was a must for me to get an in unit washer and dryer (unheard of in NY on my budget) because I get walked all over in community laundry rooms!

  20. Ashley says:

    Are you kidding me? That sounds like a horror movie.

    Or at least a sitcom.

    I was just scared she was going to, like, steal your clothes or something!

    We live in a house this year – the first time in 5 years I haven’t had to pay for laundry and it’s everything I ever dreamed it would be. :)

  21. pinkhighheels says:

    I had the same issue in my freshmen dorm. There were 9 floors, 20 girls on each floor, and only 5 sets of washers and dryers.. what?!?! Needless to say, doing laundry was something of a bloodsport that year! =)

  22. Ashley D says:

    I cannot stand people like that. So frustrating and rude!! Luckily everyone at my laundromat is decent and I’ve never had an encounter quite like your’s. Knock on wood.

  23. Jen K says:

    I FINALLY have free laundry in my apartment. Mind you, I have to live with three other girls, and we share with the apartment above us. But going from $1.50 a load to free is AMAZING!

  24. A Super Girl says:

    Oh, the amenity battle. I’ve got two (the bedroom and electric stove), but I long for a locked exterior entrance (or doorman, whatever works) and new-ish appliances. Mine are circa 1965, as is my apartment. Someday, we’ll get to move up in the world…

  25. Katie says:

    this post was hilarious to read – and the comments were even funnier. Good for you sassy laundry gal!

  26. lifeintheleftlane says:

    Eww, what a biotch. I’m glad you put her in her place and used the dryer. You can’t hold machines if your stuff isn’t ready to go in them.

    Luckily, I’ve had a washer and dryer in my house since my sophomore year of college. But I do remember how awful it was waiting to use the machines in the dorm. Half of them didn’t work or people left their stuff in them for hours without coming back. Not cool!

  27. Jenn says:

    And this is exactly why I’m looking forward to going home to do laundry. It’s free and the only lady hogging the dryer would be my grandma and I could totally take her.

  28. Maxie says:

    doing laundry in college was horrible b/c people would throw your WET clothes on the floor or any open surface if you were like 2 seconds late picking them up.

  29. Alexa says:

    ok this lady needs to CHILL.

    i have all those amenities too sans the washer/dryer. oh how i would kill for one. i don’t like spending $3 per load. not one bit.

  30. surviving myself says:

    This is why I drop my laundry off and let someone else do it for me. Of course I have to block out the image of a middle-aged Asian man touching my boxer briefs, but overall, it is much better.

  31. Dabby says:

    Oh my gosh! Laundry drama! The only time I ever experienced it was when I lived at home with my 4 brothers.

    The house I live in now is kind of a trade-off. No dishwasher, BUT…it was a laundry room. An actual ROOM to do laundry in, unlike my last apartment that had a laundry closet.

  32. 16 paws says:

    When I lived in an apartment I had clothes in the dryer, and another load of wet clothes sitting on top of the dryer waiting to go in. I had a timer set in my apartment also so I went back to change loads when it was time only to find that somone had taken my clothes out of the dryer and put thier clothes in!

    I was pissed, there wasn’t much I could do, so I just turned the dial to “air fluff” so it would use thier money but thier clothes wouldn’t get dry.

    It made me feel better at least.

  33. wontletlifedefineme says:

    Most apartments here don’t have shared laundry facilities, and each apartment has its own facilities to place a washing machine and dryer. The only time I had that problem was when I was living in a student house and we had to share one washing machine and dryer with 16 people. It really was a first come first serve rule though, and fortunately everyone stuck to that.

    I don’t have a dishwasher yet though. We can’t hook one up here in this apartment. I definitely need one in our next house though! Although that might still take a few years.

  34. L.C.T. says:

    Sounds crazy! I can’t imagine what it must be like to share washing machines and dryers. I’ve always had at least a washing machine even in my house that I share with 2 others. Maybe it’s an apartment building thing…?

  35. Kimberly says:

    We have so much trouble in my building with the “Greatest Generation” sabotaging other people’s laundry with the fake reservations and taking clothes out of already-running dryers. Why didn’t Brokaw put a chapter about this in his book?

    My biggest “victory” was when I popped my clothes in the last empty dryer in the place and noticed an old woman with a few minutes left on the washer giving me the stink-eye. I went out of the room for about five minutes and sure enough, when I came back, her laundry was in my dryer, and mine was soaked on the table. She was gone.

    So I hauled my wet stuff back upstairs for a bit. But not before I slightly opened the door to her dryer so that the timer would run out but her clothes wouldn’t be dried.

    Tuesday nights is my laundry night now – late enough for the seniors to be in bed.

  36. SA says:

    Like others, during my time living in the dorms if you didn’t move your clothes quickly someone would take them out of the dryers. Some people would even move the clothes out of the washers. I eventually scheduled my classes so I could do my washing during the weekdays when everyone else was in class. No one else was in the laundry room and I had the table that was placed there to do homework or work or papers or whatever to myself. Just easier.

    However, I did miss all the good gossip that happened in the dorms. Which sucked cause I would find out all the good stuff a month late. Sigh.

  37. Katelin says:

    seriously sometimes reading your blog i just want to up and move to some city and try and do it all. i love it.

  38. emmaelizabeth says:

    ohhh man. this reminds me of my own Laundry Hogger. She’s actually really nice- but she HOGS the washers and dryers on our floor. I take out my frustrations from her by swearing on my blog how she won’t free up a machine when I need pants by 1pm. Turns out- Sundays are the best laundry days. (esp before noon!)

    and seriously- i set timers too when I do laundry. :)

  39. Heidi Renée says:

    Oh man. When I first moved out on my own, I had a sweet apartment with a full-sized washer and dryer. Then I got kicked out when the development got turned into condos. Luckily it gave me a good excuse to move in with my now-husband, but he lived in a bachelor hovel. The laundry room was a nasty outbuilding down at the end of the row of apartments, filled with leaves and cockroaches and garbage. When we moved to Massachusetts, the laundry room was slightly better, but there were only two washers and two dryers to serve 18 apartments. When we moved to a different building last year, I FINALLY got my in-unit washer/dryer. AMEN!

  40. Maki says:

    Living in Hawaii most of my life, I didn’t get to live in the apartment or condo that offers doorman – would Security Guard be counted as one? LOL

  41. Rachel Burton says:

    That totally brought back nightmare memories from college. Good for you for not backing down!

    Since my husband’s company puts us up here for a business assignment, I have the five amenities (we’d never be able to afford this joint on our own!) but I can tell you, the doorman is highly overrated – mostly because they constantly lose my number and I have to ride the elevator all the way down to smuggle my own guests into the building. But the laundry is definitely worth shooting for!

  42. Mandy says:

    LOL, I dont have to worry about laundry. But your story made me laugh. Good for you for not backing down! :-) I cant wait to read every one elses laundry stories!

  43. Athena Valentine says:

    I remember once some bitch took my clothes out of the dryer and put hers in. I saw her just plop my wet stuff in a nearby cart. When she went in the bathroom I chucked her shit in the trash. I’m vicious.

  44. Sandy says:

    Oh man, the dryer situation is probably the worst situation ever. I got kind of lucky in that my apartment is literally right next door to the laundry room- so I can make it in quickly. BUT. There’s a woman, much like your horrible woman, that comes downststairs with an XL laundry basket and I know I won’t be doing laundry anytime soon. Ugh.

  45. Lacey Bean says:

    Mine’s close to Andy’s – in college you had to run up and take your clothes out of the washer/dryer or someone would do it for you. (Gross.) I caught a dude taking my stuff out of the dryer, and it had barely been done 5 minutes! So, to piss him off, I slowly folded all of my clothes one by one out of the dryer, and made him wait until I was done.

    +1 for me.

  46. andyhannon says:

    I once caught someone taking my clothes out of my drier and putting theirs in.

    I made them give me the buck fifty out of sheer principle.