Nash Laundry Room
Cloths have always been an essential part of human culture. One’s choice of clothing, or lack thereof, is a direct reflection of one’s personality and style, or lack thereof. As we all know however, clothes have this pesky tendency to get dirty and, unless you are exceptionally rich, washing them is a much better option than buying new ones every time you get dirty. Worry not though, people have put their greatest minds into making that task easier.
Don’t believe me? Let me blow your mind.
The washing machine: 1852
The Germ Theory of Disease: 1860
People cared so much about their clean clothes, that had working washing machines before they even knew what washing was.
Wonder why that is? Lets look at a random laundry room, and to make sure that it is used, lets look at one in a college dorm:
The washing machines and driers in the Nash Hall laundry room are sturdy, and have stood the wear and tear of hundreds of college students. Machines that have survivability as the primary function are characterized by being permanently available. As simple as it sounds, it is profound. All that engineering could just as easily go into another function, such as taking up less space, but the risk of not being able to wash our clothes is too great to make that trade.
There are also a disproportionate amount of washers and driers. This seems odd at first, but the reason is actually quite apparent when you watch for any length of time.
Driers are needed to hold a larger amount of wet clothes than may immediately be apparent. People load their clothes and walk away, setting a timer. But these are college students we’re talking about, they load their clothes, walk away and forget about them. Because of this, people will take out the other person’s clothes and simply leave them on top.
This leads to the strange mix of professionalism and informal meeting that happens in the laundry room. There is a mutual understanding that things must get done and that you both have to be there, but there is also an understanding that you are both students who have backgrounds. Perhaps it is a revealing of weakness, the weakness being having to do laundry that makes people relate to others better, but whatever the cause, people do.
There are many times when I personally have made a friend, or caught up with one I haven’t seen in years, just by running into them there. These weren’t shallow conversations about the weather either, these were conversations about our lives: Where we’re from, where we’re at, and where we’re going. I have walked in on my roommate sitting on driers with a couple people he’s never met, teaching them how to play guitar. And I’ve seen someone sleeping, and no one make a sound to respect them.
People don’t usually spend the full hour and a half in there while their clothes are washing, as already stated. It is the inherent beauty of the washing machine: the machine does the washing. You would think that this would lead to a quiet homework place a majority of the time, that can be a place to meet or run into friends. However, just the opposite is true.
There is almost a taboo against staying in the room. The place seems to draw out professionalism, where people do their job, mind their own business, and simply move on. This could cut into why there is such inherent comradery there.
Two soldiers don’t need an excuse to be comrades. Two piolets don’t need a reason to give a nod to each other. Two scientists don’t need a reason to strike up a conversation.
People who have a similar mission, a goal, will automatically gravitate towards each other. That is why if you want to meet friends you join a club, you are put with people who have a similar goal, and you will have instant comradery. In the laundry room, its the shared goal with the having to do manual labor that creates fellowship.
People come to clean clothes. But why? Because clothes are people’s way of reflecting themselves before someone even meets them. First impressions are important, and clothes are how we control them. Oddly, the laundry room bypasses that. You come to control your first impression so people will see you how you want to be seen so you can be accepted for that, but the room harbors an environment that immediately leaps to the accepting.
This specific laundry room seems to, in effect, be here to empower people to be themselves. It grants them the power to represent themselves, and provides a space where they will be seen and accepted as themselves.