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Lessons from the laundry room

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Maia Alvarez, left, and Jaimie Chun pass time watching videos as they wait for a laundry machine. Photo by Ashley Dong

When Brandon Kopp from Marlboro, New Jersey, started running out of clothes in the second week of the program, he decided it was time to do laundry. 

But he had a problem. Kopp said he was used to doing laundry at his house, where the washing machine is positioned on the left and the dryer is on the right. In the laundry room in the basement of Communications Residential College, the washing machines are on the right and the dryers are on the left. 

“I went to the left side of the room and I opened up the ‘washing machine,’” he said. “I put my clothes in, threw the two Tide Pods in and turned it on.”

The pods exploded in what Kopp later realized was the dryer, which had to be cleaned before the machine could be used again. Kopp said, at the very least, his clothes weren’t “totally ruined.”

“Everything ended up okay,” he said. “I did it right the next time.” 

While some students are less familiar with the machines, others like Aubrey Warmke of San Antonio find it peaceful to take time for hygiene. Warmke said laundry is her favorite chore, but she struggled to find time to wash and dry during the program. 

“Every time I go do laundry, everyone else has them all filled up,” she said. “Actually finding a time to do the clothes is kind of difficult.”

However, Warmke said the detergent, Tide Pods and dryer sheets on the Sharing Shelf made the process quicker when she forgot her supplies in her room. 

Shea Edwards from Atlanta said she was comfortable with using the machines, but she became stressed when she had to leave her clothes behind. On one occasion, she said she returned to the laundry room to discover that her clothes had been removed from the dryer, still wet. 

“There’s a little bit of both competition and being friendly,” she said. “People will try and be efficient in getting your laundry in and out.”

The program’s real-world experiences extend not only to the streets of Evanston for reporting, but to the “cutthroat” nature of the laundry room, Edwards said.

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