I am still in New York, still in the apartment that NYU has made available to me in a high rise building in Greenwich Village. My apartment is on the 13th floor.
This morning when I turned on my computer and went to the internet, I saw a news headline that made me blink. "Man Glued to Toilet Seat Sues Home Depot."
Goodness, I thought; a man glued to a toilet seat must feel pretty stupid.
Then I decided to see if there was a place in this building to do laundry. I have been in New York now for seven days. I need to do laundry.
So, carrying a bag of dirty laundry, I took the elevator down to the basement and walked down a long corridor and found a large well-lit room with laundry machines, and indeed three women in there industriously folding clothes.
Aha. I put my dirty laundry into a washing machine and then looked around to find a machine to give me change. There isn't one, because this is modern-day laundry...you use a special card that you buy from a machine. Okay. I can do that. I stand looking at the card-buying machine, and realize that it takes 5, 10, or 20 dollar bills. I open my wallet. All I have are $20 bills.
Okay. Is it worth $20 to me to do laundry? I decide yes. I insert a $20. The machine rejects it, spits it back out.
One of the clothes-folding women comes over to see what my problem is. Ah: female bonding! She speaks no English. But it is clear, as I take out another $20, that she thinks I am nuts for using twenty dollar bills. She points to the place on the machine that says clearly $5.
I shrug. Got no $5. A different $20 works, and now I have a laundry card. She rolls her eyes and walks away and talks in another language - Portuguese, maybe - to the two other woman. Clearly they all think I am stupider than...well, than a man glued to a toilet seat.
But now I have a card. I try to read the instructions on top of the washing machine but they have been obliterated and marred by age and overuse. I do see, however, that there is a little door to open and put in detergent. I have no detergent. There is no detergent-dispensing machine in the room.
The women are watching me. With contempt, I think. The creepy words of the old Holly Near song come to my mind... "And the junta...the junta" These women have formed a junta, I think. They hate me. I am a blond woman who has just casually put a $20 bill in a machine. They will overthrow me first chance they get.
But one of them offers me detergent form her large bottle. I thank her...overly profusely....and pour a glug of detergent into my machine, fool with the card slot and the dials, inserting my card several times, probably each time paying another $1.50, but finally the machine starts and tells me that it is going to run for 38 minutes.
I flee back to my apartment. I wait 35 minutes, return to the basement, and my machine...it is #41, (a number I remembered because it was my sister's high school boyfriend's football jersey number)...tells me it has 2 minutes to run still.
I wander around around, reading the instructions on the driers, so I'll be ready; then I sit on a bench and wait. The clothes-folding ladies are gone. I am alone.
The machine now says 0 minutes, and I go over and open it up.
It is empty.
I find my clothes: dry, unwashed, in Machine #40.
I am now back in my apartment, waiting out the 38 minutes for Machine #40, in which my laundry is now being washed without detergent. What the heck. Maybe water is enough.