CMC's Dirty Laundry
December 13, 2010
For one day every few weeks, one very aggravating day, my fellow residents of Fawcett Hall become my sworn enemies. I plan for it strategically, focused on my goal, willing to throw any of my dorm mates under the bus if such an act becomes necessary. What should have taken an hour and half becomes an all-afternoon chore, and I inevitably find myself trapped in a dingy, concrete bunker far too late at night, listening to the hum of ancient fluorescent lights and straining to remember the feel of sunlight or the smell of anything besides dust and soap. I hate laundry day.
Although built to house as many as 76 students, Fawcett has two dryers and two washing machines, which I’m convinced were designed to hold annoyingly small loads. Although this arrangement might work if students’ laundry excursions were evenly spread across the week, because of interrupting factors such as homework, class, and in my case Call of Duty, most of them seem to occur during the mid afternoon on weekends. As a result, these particular times become overbooked, and one must make trip after trip down to the second floor laundry room in a no-holds-barred competition for an unused machine. But because of the small load size of the washing machines, it usually takes both to do a full load. Therefore, each student, one of 76, usually needs both machines and 38 minutes to do a load.
Furthermore, because the laundry room has no chairs, no desks, no tables, not even a pillow, waiting around for the laundry to finish is about as fun as standing around on a concrete slab with nothing to do for 45 minutes. Because that’s exactly what it is. Students, myself included, tend to go back upstairs to study or leave to eat, and naturally get distracted (here again, Call of Duty has not helped me), and don’t return in time to retrieve their laundry. Then laundry gets shoved up on top of the machines or on the floor in response to the justified fury felt when one finds that the same set of clothes has been hogging the dryer for the better part of a Friday afternoon, often to be left for hours.
Sadly, not all dorms are created equal, and some seem to have better laundry rooms than others. Still, a number of other students have shared similar complaints. One Stark resident pointed out that “if you don’t unload the washer and dryer fast enough, someone will just dump your clothes out,” while another from Berger complained that “there aren’t enough machines.” A student from Marks explained that she usually just walked to Claremont Hall to do her laundry, while another from Wohlford pointed out that because their dorm has "two washers and three dryers ... it usually ends up there are no washers available, but two or three dryers just hanging out."
A few simple adjustments might be able to prevent frustration-induced hemorrhages and pesky dryer dents shaped conveniently like my fist. First, an online sign up sheet could go a long way to decreasing long wait times. If students could sign up for a specific time from the comfort of their own computers, during which they had exclusive access to the machines ahead of time, others would be able to simply check the schedule, see when the machines will be available, and request a spot which fits in between their class schedule. Rather than walking all the way to the laundry room and suppressing the urge to disembowel the guy who just took the last dryer, students could check on the status of the laundry machines for the afternoon without even needing to put pants on.
Secondly, especially in Auen and Fawcett, where getting to the laundry room often means going down several flights of stairs rather than simply walking down the hall, a few desks and chairs in the laundry rooms would help encourage students to pick up their laundry on time and prevent piles of uncollected clothing from accumulating. With a spot available to study, read, eat, sleep, or just sit, waiting for the laundry to finish becomes a much less like being trapped in a dungeon and more like being trapped in the library. Not exactly fun, but still technically an improvement.
In retrospect, the fact that I need to complain about petty things like laundry, rather than massive budget cuts or a stupid mascot, speaks to the fact that CMC takes care of us pretty well in most respects. Still, with a little reorganization and some additional furniture, laundry day can be made just an easier, if not always enjoyable experience.