Laundry: A Sock Story

My story begins on a regular September afternoon. My laundry basket, bursting at the seams with an array of weather-inappropriate clothing, had toppled over entirely. I decided after some quick calculations that I would be able to complete the full laundry cycle in the amount of time I had before dinner. I could not have been more wrong.

The washing machine portion of the cycle had gone as smoothly as ever. I had long since sacrificed the standard cultural laundry practice of separating lights from darks, so my responsibilities extended to just a single load. I noticed the dryer that would normally correspond with my washer was occupied and had been for some time. The dryer door stood ajar but its contents were clearly untouched. I should have known then what I would soon be forced to do.

A half an hour passed and I returned to The Laundry Room to transfer my sopping wet ball of clothing into another vesicle. I was distressed to find that the aforementioned Dryer 4 was still filled with someone’s entirely dry ball of clothing. Taken aback, I left the room without my sopping wet ball of clothing and proceeded to wait for the owner of the dry ball to claim ownership.

I patiently waited for about an hour, checking the Dryer approximately every 10 minutes. I felt as though an interval any smaller than that would have increased my chances of actually interacting with the lazy Dryer user, which of course I wished to avoid at all costs.

Before I continue, I’d like to say a few words about the architecture of the laundry room. There are two washers and two dryers in Hewitt 10. As you can see in the skillfully taken photo above, the washers and dryers face each other, washers on one side, dryers on the other. There is a mere three feet between these sides, so small a distance in fact that if two people were removing clothes from machines opposite each other, they would, in effect, be booty to booty. I argue in this paper that the laundry room is not only a place clothing hygiene and tide-pod eating, but of intimacy and dorm bonding.

I waited for what I thought was a respectable amount of time before losing my patience and removing the person’s clothing from the dryer and filling it up with my own. Perhaps it was the dryer fumes or the fact that there was now another person loading up the washer behind me, but contrary to my normal state of guilt and slowly diminishing self-worth, I felt extraordinarily powerful. In an effort to be conspicuous, I casually dropped comments like “oops, lol I always forget to take my laundry out omigod my timer didn’t go off” to the other laundry doer in The Laundry Room in order to give the impression that I was removing my own laundry from Dryer 4 and not that of a total stranger for whom I had a deep sense of loathing.

It was at this point that the paranoia of the stranger walking in on me as I did this hit me hard. I began frantically removing the dry clothes and launching them across the room towards the empty windowsill, booty bumping my fellow laundry doer all the while. Sprinting up the stairs to the safety of my own room, I took in the magnitude of what I had just done.

I’m not proud of what I did, except yes, I am. I took charge of my own destiny. I may have been an hour off schedule, but I benefited from this experience in more ways than just a clean load of laundry. I learned that no one just gives you an empty dryer and waits for you to use it, you have to take it for yourself.

Days afterward, when I finally got around to folding that load of laundry, I discovered a foreign artifact tangled up in one of my t-shirts. It was a men’s sock severely stained and torn from what I can only assume was a barefoot hike through rocky terrain. I realized that in my haste to remove the stranger’s clothes from Dryer 4, that I had missed a sock and dried it with my own clothes. I’m sure this is meaningful in some way. I challenge you to ponder it during your next load.

While this story received little to no reaction from my companions at the Usdan dinner table, I hope my readers can see a piece of themselves in it. I would like to stand in solidarity with those with similarly ordinary laundry room experiences, and hope that one day, for really no reason, each and every one of you will have your nasty sock moment.