We interact with a lot of families while they are shopping for an RV to ditch the suburbs in. For many of these families, having a washer/dryer on board is a “must have”.
Convenient? Sure. Doing laundry at laundromats means bagging up and lugging heavy dirty clothes bags. And keeping a supply of quarters on hand. And killing a couple of hours in a place you’d rather not.
But I’m glad an onboard washer/dryer wasn’t a “must have” for us. I would have missed out on meeting some great people along the way.
We’ve been parked on a farm in northern Florida for 6 weeks. I make the trek into town (about 17 miles) once a week to do my laundry.
The laundromat isn’t much to speak of. It’s small. I’ve never seen anyone sweeping the floor. But the washers are clean and the price is right.
And it has Margie.
She sits by the door, folding laundry.
I met Margie my first week. She works part-time washing and folding laundry for customers. She’s a large southern woman who has lived in the area her entire life. She leans on a wheeled basket while moving around.
She has two grown children - a boy and a girl, just like me. She talks about her grandchildren.
Friends of all ages stop in to chat with Margie while she matches socks or folds towels. She knows the repeat customers—“I’ve known her since she was pregnant with that little guy and now he’s talking.”
Yesterday I made my final visit to the laundromat. After counting out $10 in quarters for me, she asked how I was liking the area. I told her we’ve enjoyed our stay, but we were leaving this week.
“Just when we’re getting to know each other.” She was genuinely sad that I wouldn’t be returning.
So was I.
We were a few miles away from Carlsbad Caverns. The RV park had a laundry room. When I walked into the room to start my laundry an older gentleman was waiting for his load to dry.
We got to talking.
Glen was a veteran. We talked about his family. We talked about his travels. We talked about his trip to the Phillipines, where he and his wife walked in the footsteps of soldiers walking the Bataan Death March.
At points in our conversation we had to pause to let him work through a bout of tears.
Glen explained that he suffered from PTSD, which caused him to cry.
After a few minutes I’d try to move the conversation towards a different topic. Glen wouldn’t have it. He’d take us right back to the hard topics.
And cry again.
Crying in front of a stranger is difficult. I was honored that Glen let himself be vulnerable and talk with me in spite of the tears that it caused.
Another RV park. Another RV park laundry room.
San Antonio this time.
Dorothy was doing her laundry when I arrived. She had lived in Michigan and knew my hometown. She had a business around dogs and was traveling with several. We spoke at length about Miranda’s interest in guide-dog training and Dorothy shared her knowledge with me.
I gave her a Ditching Suburbia business card and she connected with us through our travels.
What Price Convenience?
One reason we ditched the suburbs was to interact with people from different backgrounds. Different cultures. Different orientations.
Laundromats are often where that happens the most.
Don’t miss that opportunity for the sake of convenience.