Monday, July 19, 2010


In the spring of 2000, I moved to an area now called Prospect Heights. At the time, it was called Crown Heights. There was no laundry in the building. The apartment was huge, inexpensive, and recently renovated. It had a back yard that I spent hundreds of hours turning into a garden.

The back yard was so derelict when I moved in, that any urbanite could help by digging out anything solid: be it a rock, old pipes, a car battery, or tricycle. That first spring, I made paths, beds, planted a few shrubs, and wildflowers. I came home one day to find that my landlord mowed over everything. He expressed concern about rodents with all that stuff growing back there. He talked about making a large concrete patio with an awning.

I should have suspected as much when, at the end of that first long move-in day, the woman who lived there before me stopped by to pick her things up.

"Sorry to bother you but I forgot something."

"Really? I didn't see anything unusual when I moved in."

"I forgot my toilet seat."

"Your what?"

"The toilet seat."

"What did you do with the old one?"

"Oh-- the apartment didn't come with one. I needed to go out and buy it. None of [our landlord]'s apartments have them so I'm taking it to my new place."

Ring. Ring. Phoning the real estate broker who-- a few days earlier-- accepted a check for her fee: a month and half rent. I really wish I remembered the details of her half of the conversation because she actually defended the guy for several minutes. How do you justify not including a toilet seat with an apartment?

Using a between-you-and-me tone, I said "You can't be serious. I've just signed a 2 year lease, paid you four figures, and the apartment doesn't come with a $15 toilet seat?"

Someone paid and it wasn't me.

Another situation that I had not anticipated was driving miles away to do laundry over the next two years. You see, it wasn't safe for me to go to the laundromat closest to the apartment. I couldn't help myself from interfering with certain aspects of the local after-school-special child-raising customs. So in order to keep myself from doing something stupid, I needed to do my laundry in the gentrified part of Brooklyn.

When I moved to my current apartment in The Odd Couple part of Manhattan 2 years later, I didn't have laundry in the building. There were a few options: drop things off around the corner (30 seconds), a place 4 blocks away that was open 24 hours without a place to sit (6 minutes plus wait time) or a place 2 blocks away with wash-and-fold (people who do the laundry for you) and self service (3 minutes plus wait time).

The place 4 blocks away appealed to me because there isn't room to hang out. To better understand why this appealed to me, see above. About two years ago, the place 4 blocks away closed.

I tried the place 2 blocks away but since the last wash needed to be in before 6pm on weeknights, it didn't work out because I never got home on time. I don't like doing laundry on the weekend so I started to drop my clothing off around the corner.

At first, I would just drop off anything that could withstand high heat like my sheets and towels. I could spare a half hour doing one load myself during the weekend and drying these dedicates at home. It quickly degenerated into dropping off everything, at the peril of a few nice items (may they rest in peace).

Although I did my own laundry in New York for over a decade, the past few years I've fallen into the habit of paying $30 each week for someone else to do it for us.

In June, I decided to start doing laundry again. It's an easy way to save a few dollars. The day before I went to Montana, I did all the laundry. Then I changed the sheets.

So you can imagine my surprise when I got home, checked the household account, and saw a $52 charge to the laundry guys. In order to have the house sparkle for my homecoming, all sorts of things were washed while I was away: the bedspread, shower curtain, bathrobes, towels-- pretty much anything heavy.

Next time I have a money saving plan, I'll be sure to mention it to the rest of my household.

Job applications: 1
Networking events: 2
New contacts: 2

1 comment:

  1. I've enjoyed reading your blog postings Diane. This one made me feel sorry I never saw your garden! Job searching is tough, and it sounds like you're staying positive.

    Cheers, Josh