Monday, February 7, 2011

Apartment Living: The Laundry Room

At first, I thought having to trudge down to a community laundry room (as opposed to trudging down to my own personal dungeon) would be an intolerable drag. Quite the opposite has happened.

Not that I suddenly love doing laundry. Still hate that chore, but visits to the laundry room in this apartment building have proven most entertaining. I have Hopkins and Loyola students to thank for that.

While some resident grown-ups grumble about the over-abundance of students in this building, I like having these young people around. I'm endlessly fascinated by their apparent inability to do simple things, like picking up from the floor anything they've dropped. Their sub-verbal interactions remind me why I opted out of pursuing my career as a college professor after a decade in those trenches.

But if I were still an academic sociologist and these were my students, I'd hone their observation skills by assigning fieldwork in the laundry room. They'd be cautioned about letting parental participation taint the research environment. No joke: Some Hopkins graduate students still have parents doing laundry for them.

I'd ask my students to observe the laundry room at various times during the week so that by the end of the semester, they could develop social theories* to explain:
  • Why would young adults with flexible schedules opt to wait until Sunday night to do a month's worth of laundry?
  • What prevents highly educated individuals from reading instructions about how to use washing machines and clothes dryers?
  • Under what circumstances do young adults forget, for as long as 10 days, to retrieve large items like queen-sized sheets and 3' x 4' bathmats?
I wouldn't expect these questions to be easily or swiftly answered. After all, I have Ph.D. in Sociology and I'm still, after three weeks, trying to figure out how someone forgets she has failed to retrieve underwire bras and, more importantly, the small, zippered net lingerie bag in which they've been laundered. Those types of lingerie bags are valuable.

*Bonus credit to anyone who could offer a political economic analysis as well.


  1. This is fabulous! Love your observations about life....and now laundry!

  2. I love reading your posts because you always manage to insert such great wisdom and insights into something amusing. You are a true observer of life and that is truly a gift!

  3. Thanks, Andie! Could I have been anything other than an artist and then a sociologist? Love looking at life's weirdnesses.


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