Saturday, August 11, 2007

Laundry safety

Part I

A few weeks ago, while hanging around at the laundromat, I was reading in a magazine (I can't remember which magazine), and in this magazine somebody claiming to be an expert was bemoaning that people washed and then tumbled dried towels and underwear in the same load of laundry. This person was claiming that we cause lots and lots of disease in this world by not sorting our laundry according to germs. This person seemed to think that it was especially bad that we put our underwear and towels in the same dryer loads, tumble dryers apparently (she claimed) being just world-class germ distributors.

If we killed germs as we washed, it would be different, she said. If we washed more germs away than we do, it would be different. But, she said, we don't kill them and we don't get rid of enough of them.

Her claims of how much disease we were causing this way struck me as probably a bit extravagant, but... then again, after I got home, I realized that I already do sort some of my laundry by germiness. For instance, I will not wash socks that came off of feet with athlete's foot with my dishcloths. OK, sometimes I won't even wash socks that came off healthy feet with my dishcloths. It grosses me out. Or, if someone's been really sick, I usually wash his or her clothes separately. Or, anything that comes in contact with manure gets special treatment, and isn't washed with other things. Or, cleaning rags don't go in with certain other things, because I don't want to risk having any residual chemicals getting into places they shouldn't. Etc.

I'm not hard and fast with these rules, but, when it's not too much trouble, I do tend to segregate loads to prevent cross contamination. I just hadn't thought about it, not really.

So, for what it's worth, some expert writing in some major magazine claims we'd be significantly healthier overall if we didn't distribute our germs throughout our laundry. I haven't the least idea how much weight to put to that. Ball's in your court.

Part II

A few weeks ago, I had another laundromat adventure. Somehow, for whatever reason, the post I wrote about it didn't get published. So... here it is, somewhat condensed:

So, I went to the laundromat, which is a nice, homey laundromat, with chairs and reading material, and I was all alone in there, reading, waiting for my clothes to dry, when some motorcycles pull up out front and the riders jump off. They look like the stereotype of bikers of the not-totally-wasted variety. A lot of people who dress like that and ride motorcycles are playing, of course. Dressing up. Trying on a role. Taking a break from being lawyers and dentists and postmasters and bank clerks, that sort of thing.

One biker came in. And another. And another. Middle-aged all, one graying. They notice me and say hello and look around and can't find a vending machine for detergent (for the very good reason that there isn't one). Sometimes I just let travelers use some of my detergent, but these men strike me as the sort that would be dismayed by such an offer. In fact, they are rather needlessly making a biggish deal about where they can buy some detergent (these are men with pride, obviously), so I point them to the Thriftway just down the street.

One guy hops on his bike and roars off to get soap, and the other two guys laughingly kid each other about who owns which shirt they're going to wash. Basic guy stuff, gently razzing one another. They get impatient for the other guy, and decide to put the clothes in the washer and get it started so they, can, like, get back out on the road three or four or five minutes sooner. Their clothes, they decide, will get clean enough if subjected to a prewash plus a few minutes of sudsy wash.

I am, by this point, pretty well convinced it's some business professionals out for a vacation, playing at being Steve McQueen or James Dean or Jack Kerouac or something like that. I mean, they were entirely proper in how they greeted me, and quite properly didn't get too close, and seemed to carry themselves fairly well in general. Habitually well-mannered, at a guess. Too well-mannered to talk trash to a lady or otherwise harass her at any rate.

So I hide my smile at their impatience and turn back to reading and they pitch their voices to hold a normal conversation halfway across the room from me. Not putting a show on for me, I mean, or I don't think so, at any rate. I've never liked loud music and so I have slightly better than average hearing for a Boomer, and sometimes a word or phrase would slip through. I didn't think anything of it when one of them told the other that somebody had shot him in the back. 'Shooting someone in the back' is a nice, common, everyday slang term, meaning betrayal. But when the other guy asked which caliber, and the other guy replied in what sounded like ammo terms...

Well, I began to doubt my ability to judge these guys.

And no, I didn't get the context. It didn't seem a good idea to appear to be eavesdropping just then...

Well, if they'd paid any more notice of me than they had, or projected any sense of menace, I'd have nonchalantly remembered an appointment somewhere or an errand I'd decided I had time to run just then. As it was, I pretended I hadn't heard, and ignored them until my dryer turned off (like all of one minute later), and then I took the clothes out normally, except for the fact that I was careful to put my husband's clothes in a stack on the folding table where I was sure they could see. See, here, fellows, I have a man who backs me up. See. Messing with this gal is courting a dedicated quest for justice that'll make you rue the day you messed with this gal. I tend to do that anyway when I'm with strangers in a laundromat, but this time I tried to nonchalantly make a point of it. (Now who was doing the person-of-unknown-depths-and-hidden-menace wannabe routine, I ask you? And you feminists can stop snickering now. I've seen you out walking with your big dogs and I've seen you put on matching t-shirts to emphasize that you belong to a group of easily enraged females. You pick your back-up, I'll pick mine...)

For all I know these bikers were police officers, or the one guy had had a violent wife who'd flipped out, or they were ER doctors, or, who knows? Maybe they were military guys, or ex-military. (Did I mention that they seemed to carry themselves fairly well in general?) Or maybe they were playing after all. I don't know. They pretty much ignored me, I pretty much ignored them, except, when I was halfway through getting my clothes folded they decided to go find a place to go eat, and gave me a friendly goodbye on their way out the door. A friendly goodbye which I returned, by the way. (Do I strike you as someone who would intentionally antagonize guys who treat bullet wounds as normal conversation?)

Rightly or wrongly, I wasn't really worried about them. Their attitude didn't seem to warrant being worried. But I did make a point of being gone before they could turn around and come back. It's not like I'm always one hundred percent right about people. (Speaking of that, this story about a famous rabbi and a 'holy man' is a pretty good illustration about getting the wrong impression from superficial things, and a reminder that what's hidden in human hearts can surprise you.)

Anyway, no harm done. Just another day at the laundromat.

[end old post]

Part III

The next trip to the laundromat I didn't have enough quarters to wash and dry all my clothes, because the washer rates had been raised 25%.

Part IV

I love my new washer. I dry the clothes on a drying rack in the same room. We're looking at putting up a clothesline out back. I'm like a kid with a new toy... :)

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