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September 16, 2013


Bettering Oneself Through Laundry


A glamorous photo of my laundry, which has taught me more about myself than anyone can truly understand.

There are so many challenges I’ve encountered in my mere 19 years on this planet that have completely changed who I am as a person. I had to learn how to work cooperatively and efficiently with my peers to put together a summer camp for 80 high school freshman. I’ve pathetically bear-crawled up a mountain because I was too exhausted to walk. And I’ve done laundry at Clark University.

Hang on. Hear me out. I’m not trying to suggest that doing laundry here is a near-impossible task that would make me rather pull my eyelashes out than clean my clothes. By ‘challenge’, I mean that doing laundry here is a task that pushes my personal limits and forces me to grow as a human being. There are multiple personal qualities that I have developed and strengthened from doing laundry here, and all of them are valuable, and most of them are things that I truly believe can only be learned from the laundry process.

1. Small Talk

The laundry room in Maywood hall is much, much bigger than is truly necessary for the amount of laundry facilities that are inside it. It’s approximately the size of a tennis court, with five washers on the far end of one side, and with five dryers on the complete opposite side. As you can imagine, there is an uncomfortably large amount of space between the two ends of the room. However, the room is just small enough that if someone else is in the room with you, you absolutely cannot completely disregard them. If the room was larger, it would be possible. If the room was smaller, most definitely. If you don’t at least smile or greet the other person in the room with you, you’ll come off as the world’s biggest jerkface, which leads to an unspoken enemy (a big no-no that I’ve talked about here).

So I’ve been forced to push past my inherent shyness (hard to believe, I know, but I swear it’s true) and talk to people. It may not always work out (I guess people aren’t always excited to make small talk while they’re sorting their socks…weird), but I like to think that making an effort has caused me to grow a little bit better.

2. Drive and determination

Last year, I was spoiled rotten, because I lived on the same floor as the laundry room. I never knew the amount of effort it takes to haul a huge bag of dirty clothes and laundry detergent down the stairs. When I first arrived on campus, this became a huge problem; I never wanted to expend all the energy it would take to go down two flights of stairs so I could wash my clothes. It just seemed so overwhelming and hard. Why carry clothes downstairs when I could lay in bed and watch Law and Order: SVU on Netflix instead? Eventually, as you could imagine, I could no longer put off doing my laundry, and I put on my big girl pants (the clean ones, not the ones that were about to go in the wash), and hauled my long-overdue laundry down to the basement.

Every week, I encounter this problem, and the only way I’ve been able to conquer it is by mustering all of my strength and determination to overcome this overwhelming obstacle. The weekly act of pushing myself when I’m in no mood to be pushed has forced me to possess drive and determination, which I had previously thought I possessed. However, I can count on one hand the amount of situations I’ve been in that require that much determination.

3. Nonchalance

Sometimes people forget to come get their laundry out in a timely manner. It happens. I’ve done it. Everyone’s done it. It’s something that we all do, but also all hate when someone turns around and does it to us. So what happens when you need to put your clothes into the washer, and no one has come to move their finished laundry into the dryer? I usually try to wait about five minutes or so to see if anyone ever comes. In almost every single case, they never do.

And that’s when you make sure no one is around, and take someone’s laundry out of the dryer, grab your own laundry, and sneakily, quietly slip it in, hoping no one witnessed you commit such a condemnable act. This is something that you never, ever want to be caught doing. Ever. So keep your head down and hope you’re stealthy enough to not get caught.

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1 Comment
  1. Seth
    Sep 17 2013

    Number 3 has always been my sticking point. Curses you, ever-elusive nonchalance!

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