Lockdown: Spinning in a new locale

The laundry chronicles

Tuesday night I got to bed at about 10:30 with my alarm set for 2:45 Wednesday morning. This was the day to check out Kapalama Laundrette, and since it’s so close to the crib, I let myself sleep half an hour longer.

Except I woke up at around 2:00 and couldn’t get back to sleep. I jumped up, got things ready for the laundry, taking my sweet time, and by the time the alarm went off, I was ready to go.

Stopped at the McD’s drive-through a block away from the laundry. That’s convenient.

This laundry wasn’t going to have the debit card system loaded by a credit card from a touch-screen display, I was pretty sure (based on Yelp reviews), I stopped at a credit union (no-fee) ATM right behind the building. That’s convenient.

There’s a Zippy’s right in that strip mall, so when life gets back to normal (if ever), that will be convenient, although I suppose by then I’ll be doing my laundry at my parents’ house again.

There was one other vehicle in the parking lot when I pulled up. A van belonging to one of the restaurants. It appeared I was the only human on the premises. Nice.

The laundry is long and narrow with coin-op washers on the right in two sizes (triple and quadruple capacity) and dryers on the left (same?). The faux hardwood paneling has been worn through from years of foot traffic so it looks like some diseased tree losing its bark, in these kind of lava lamp non-patterns. It looks gross. There are folding counters right at the entrance, where there are also vending machines for detergent and fabric softener. Three industrial metal folding tables fill the aisle down the middle, each with its own trash can. There were also trash cans near the entrance.

The facility looked decently maintained, although not obsessively maintained, but it was a freaking mess at this hour. Abandoned zippered plastic bags (I recognize them as vehicles for quarters; one even had a crumpled quarters wrapper inside) took space atop washers, as well as the usual assortment of odd socks, abandoned towels, and even a pillow.

Here’s something I don’t get, and only became aware of when this lockdown began nearly a year ago. Apparently, it’s become a thing to dump your used dryer sheets onto the floor of a laundry. It was a problem at Manoa, and it’s three times as bad at Kapalama. After a few months of tolerating it in Manoa, I made a little ritual of picking it all up (carefully, usually with a napkin in my hand to separate me from the discarded sheets) and tossing it. At Manoa it usually meant ten to fifteen sheets. At Kapalama, it was easily thirty to forty, and I’m not exaggerating. They were all kind of gathered in the front area near the vending machine, sort of in a line hugging the baseboards, like the way there’s always a curvy line of tiny shells and seaweed at the beach to mark the high tide line when the tide goes out. Only ever so slightly less beautiful.


I claimed the table furthest from the entrance, near the change machine (thankfully operable; you can bet they keep that in good working order) and loaded two machines. When I got it going, I went back to the car to get my book and Big Mac combo. I wasn’t sure if there was a no food policy, so I planned to eat on the trunk of my car if necessary, but I couldn’t find a sign indicating such a policy’s existence. There was also no apparent no reading policy, thank goodness.

Before I tore in, I kind of swept all the dryer sheets into a small mountain with my foot, then threw it all away. There were a few scattered about the rest of the facility, so I gathered them, too, as well as the zippered bags and orphaned clothing I knew nobody was coming back for. Left the towels and pillow.

It was quite a bit nicer now.

A few people mentioned the mildew in the glass front-opening doors of the washers, and it was right there, a rather unsightly and unsettling reality I knew I was going to live with and not think about too much. At least the dryers looked clean and should kill any mildew spores or however mildew reproduces. Is it even a living creature?

My Big Mac and fries breakfast was delicious. I’ve made it a habit to order an extra Diet Coke with extra ice (it’s just a buck) even though I seldom finish both drinks. It’s better to have too much than not enough.

As I ate, I finished On the Horizon, which finished quite a bit better than it started. A security guard walked past the door a few times. I waved each time. He didn’t return the gesture, but it’s cool.

About midway through my drying, two Micronesian women came in wearing masks (I put mine on too) to clean up. They were friendly but not too friendly, getting to work in their efficiently habituated way, both dealing with the trash first, checking all the machines, then one wiping down the washers and the other emptying lint traps on the dryers. By the time I was folding, one had already swept the floor while the other mopped. If either noticed the floors were unusually clean, neither said anything.

As I packed up to go, a guy backed his truck into the stall next to mine, and the women clearly recognized him. Maybe to empty the machines, or do some maintenance? I’m stereotyping because he was a guy and they were women, I know, but also his truck had a very utilitarian look while they’d arrived in a late-model, very clean four-door sedan of some make I couldn’t identify with a casual glance.

If I find myself between jobs again (not out of the question, ever), I might look into doing laundry maintenance. The hours would suit me, not to mention the quiet solitude. The laundry nearest my house had signs up last summer looking for a person to do nightly maintenance at that laundry and a couple of others.

Summary. In the positive column: five-minute drive from home, one block from a McD’s, good ATM right behind the building, well-lighted, untidy but not dirty (ignoring the mildew in the washers). no other patrons at three in the morning, and across the street from a 7-Eleven, if I should forget something essential. In the negative column: not as safe a neighborhood, suuuuuper untidy, much smaller, mildewy windows on the washers, and pricey!

Oh yeah. Forgot to mention that it’s five bucks a wash, compared to $4.30 at Manoa, which is fine. But drying? Twenty-five cents for three minutes, compared to twenty-five cents for eight minutes at Manoa. Dang it! What the heck?

I got home at about five, put my newly washed linens on the bed, and got another three hours of sleep before work. I slept pretty well.

Uninterrupted writing time (but not necessarily uninterrupted writing)

Staggered to my desk Wednesday morning with my schedule pretty clear. My weekly one-on-one was pushed back to Thursday afternoon. I don’t know if it was because I told my supervisor I needed a bunch of uninterrupted writing time, or because a meeting popped up for her (it did but I don’t know if that’s why we rescheduled to the next day). It was welcome.

Didn’t finish anything but made decent progress. Also had the impeachment proceedings on the TV as I worked.

Another dead hiker

There was a story on the evening news about the body of a hiker found near the Makaha Pillboxes trail. When they gave the victim’s name, I recognzed her as a local chef I interviwed for a short alumni profile a few years ago. I’d spoken with her on the phone and traded emails, and our photographer went to her restaurant to take some cool photos.

No cause of death given, but it sounds like she fell. She was thirty. Young, and energetic and quirky. I texted Kapio and Sharon, two of our alumni people, to let them know. Then sent them the photos we hadn’t published, in case they wanted to share on social media. I let our photographer know, and my supervisor, and our development officer at Kapiolani CC, which was a mistake because after I sent the link to the story, I realized the chef was a graduate of Leeward CC. Anyway, the DO remembered the woman anyway, so we chatted a little about that.

Connection and consumption breakdown

That was most of my texting Wednesday. Not the best thing to converse about. Penny texted to ask some questions about purchasing MS Office. Reid called and then texted to get some help with his son’s English homework.

Breakfast was the Big Mac combo. Delicious, even if the fries tasted a little old. I had a morning snack of clementines and dried apricots. For lunch, I made kimchi fried rice, with some leftover hapa rice, Portuguese sausage, eggs, onions, kimchi, and shoyu. It was pretty good, even though I’m not the best fried rice cook, and brown rice doesn’t really contribute well to this dish. Dinner was kimchi stew. It all felt routine but comfy and pleasurable.

Anthony Fauci says by the end of July, it’s possible everyone who wants to get vaccinated will be vaccinated. Encouraging news. But it’s many months ’til then, and if you’re still going through this stuff with nobody to connect with, you probably shouldn’t. Leave a comment and I’ll send you some contact info.

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