S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen


One of the challenges of going on a long trip is dealing with the logistics of doing laundry. When one is an academic, conference and research housing ranges from hotels to dorm rooms. Most hotels are not cooperative enough to have laundry facilities usable by their guests. Dorms or halls usually do, but often very much out of the way. In addition, laundry usually requires time. Time to mind the machines so others don't toss newly-clean clothing aside in their desire to use my machine themselves.

Handwashing works fine if one has planned ahead on easy-to-dry clothing and has the time to let it air-dry before moving on, especially if the residence in question has an effectively pluggable sink - they don't always. Dry-cleaning adds up quickly. Yesterday I was talking to a graduate student about her forthcoming four-week research trip to the UK. One of her biggest concerns, even months in advance, is how to fit laundry around everything else in her schedule. Once, C. and I wasted nearly an entire day in Vienna, on our only trip there, first searching for a laundromat that had moved, then doing laundry, waiting for machines, deciphering public transport.

Because laundry can be such a kerfuffle, especially when pressed for time, I wasn't particularly looking forward to dealing with it this morning. I'm finishing off a conference paper and have lots of grading to do. I can't work on either effectively while babysitting laundry machines.

Fortunately I am staying in a hotel with a small laundromat in the basement - two washers, two dryers. On the elevator heading down towards the laundromat, I overheard a conversation between two staff members - one of the laundry machines wasn't working. I said I hoped the other was, and available - and they said it was already in use. I followed them to the laundry room where, after thirty seconds of tweaking, the laundry machine started. One looked at me and smiled. "It's your lucky day. Free laundry." And, except for the soap and the time it took to go to the basement twice, it was. If only travel laundering was always so efficient!

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