Saturday, December 10, 2005


Coming back from an event in the West Hills, I cross the Ross Island Bridge onto Powell and hit traffic. It’s Friday night, well into the Holiday Season, and it is bitter cold but not raining. Lots of cars are out tonight and it’s a slow-go inching from the Bridge out to the 205, stopping and starting as I approach each of the thousand stop lights along the way.

This gives me time to look at what I’m passing. At every Tri-Met stop passengers are waiting, huddled into themselves against the cold with collars turned up and hats pulled down. At one corner I pass a Laundromat, brightly lit and crowded with people doing one of life’s tedious chores.

It takes me back to San Francisco 1995, when I was living in the Cottage at Ocean Beach and riding the N Judah downtown to work and taking my laundry to the Laundery Matte [sic] at the corner of 46th and Judah next to the Lebanese pizza parlor. And waiting… waiting… waiting at the bus stop and for the clothes to dry.

Mornings waiting in the chilly ocean fog for the streetcar, pulling my trenchcoat tight around me. I had a snap brim black hat with a hidden scarf that pulled down and tied under my chin. I looked like someone out of Dick Tracy! My backpack with my book and my lunch over my shoulder, I would jostle for a place in the three-sided shelter that held two comfortably and seven or eight die-hards who were probably pretty good at Elevator Squeeze as well. It’s been years since I was knocked around like that so early in the morning. Nights were not so cold as my stop was underground at Montgomery Street. Still and all, I spent a lot of time waiting for the trolley. Waiting… waiting… waiting.

And always, at the end of the day, clothes piling up and waiting to be washed. A toss-up to choose whether to wait till Saturday when the place would be really crowded or drag out after work. There is no place more depressing than a Laundromat at night with the bright lights glaring and the machines spinning and the people all grumpy and discontent. Whatever time I chose, I would bundle my clothes into the wheeled shopping cart and trudge the two blocks for a couple of hours of madness. Reading with one eye, watching the dryer with the other so no one would steal my clothes or take them out while they were still wet so they could use my quarter. Waiting…waiting…waiting.

Driving by last night, I realized how fortunate I am to live in a home with a laundry room and two brand new beautiful machines. One of the things I hope to never do again is go to the Laundromat on a Friday night. Or any night. Or any day. No more waiting.

It is also nice to have a car with heat for a late night trip across the metro area. Although I’m a big fan of public transportation and continue to use it, on a cold windy night in a dark and strange town, I am happy to be safe in my SUV with heated seats. No more waiting.


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