Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cesar's Palace: Elevating the Drudgery

I’ve always thought it’s weird that the laundromat, a place you go to clean things, is so filthy and depressing. It would not be a stretch of the imagination to see a water-logged rat in or under one of those rusted out machines. And what would you do? You’d move down to the next machine. No one ever goes there because he has a choice. Every person in there is annoyed. Why shouldn’t he be? He had to lug his filthy clothes all the way from home in a heavy bag swung over his shoulder like a dead animal. He is reminded of his own poverty, of his own struggles, of time passing by. The City Laundromat: house of misery. 

Once in a while if I have some big blankets to wash, I have to go. This used be a huge process that involved 3 days of denying it had to be done. I'd go to Lucy's over on Sunset because they have a Starbucks in there, but I switched when I realized it was a hang out for meth-heads and junkies who stood next to me at the dryer waiting to see if I was going to use all my quarters. The last time I went I got knocked into by two guys who had each other in a headlock. I realize things could be a lot worse. In the scheme of life it's not that big of a deal. But there's something about getting knocked hard in the kidney by two sweaty battling junkies that makes you want to re-evaluate your circumstances.

A few months ago I decided to try the place that's around the corner from my house. It's small, located in a mini-mall between a taco place and a liquor store. There was a guy standing outside with one of those metal basket carts. When I pulled into a parking spot, he scuttled the cart over to help me with my bags. Buenos Dias! He told me his name was Cesar. He asked how I was doing. He asked if I needed change. Inside the place was sparkling, the floors were swept and mopped; the machines wiped down and shining. Spanish soft rock played on the radio over the calming sounds of running water and zippers in the dryer. It smelled good. I kept thinking, nothing wrong happens in here. There are no existential crises, no hopeless or sad evaluations of failure. Everything was simple, tidy.

Cesar's Laundry: my new church.

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