Our apartment building has twelve units, and when they are all occupied, an average of eighteen people live here. We all share one laundry room, with one washing machine, and one dryer.
Overall, we have wonderful neighbors, who look out for each other.
I'll never forget the time that I was making felted catnip mice for Christmas presents. I knit up little mouse-bodies, and asked the neighbors if they minded me felting them in the dryer. I asked permission, because I intended to sew round pebbles inside the mouse-pelts to keep them from closing up on themselves when they felted, and I didn't want anyone to freak out because I was running rocks through the wash. Amazingly, everyone was amenable to my cockamamie scheme.
With twenty people sharing one set of machines, there's no squeamishness about handling each other's clothes. If a neighbor's wash is sitting in the dryer, and you are next in line, you just take their dry clothes out of the dryer and set them on the folding counter. We have one neighbor who is such a sweetie, that she often folds other people's clothes while she's waiting for her own wash to finish.
I have to admit that after a certain time at night, I'm often too lazy to retrieve my clothes, and I'll often leave them sitting overnight. There's a certain casual-ness about this in our building.
So, the morning after I felted my catnip mice, I came downstairs, and found a perfectly folded stack of clothes, populated by a colony* of catnip mice. Mice were arranged in the most amusing ways -- peeping out of pockets, looking over the edge of the laundry stack, climbing up and down. If I hadn't been running late that morning, I would have gone upstairs for my camera and documented the merriment. As it was, I giggled for days.
Sharing laundry facilities with so many other people may have given me the motivation to to stop using a dryer altogether. I've read how the clothes dryer is one of the most energy-wasting devices in the American home, and it seemed to me that I could do a tiny bit of good by hanging my clothes to dry. We have access to a rooftop, so I often climb out the living room window and hang my clothes to dry. This always freaks me out, because the roof I'm walking on is more than a little bit spongy. I'm terrified of falling through.
Ever since Robb's accident, I have been especially aware that I cannot afford to injure myself. We have to have one able-bodied person in the household, to do the scampering and heavy-lifting tasks.
When we move, we plan to buy a washing machine. But we have no plans for buying a dryer. Furthermore, we intend to set up a grey-water system. And we won't be breaking the law! Just last month, the state of California relaxed their ban on grey-water.
The thing we *won't* miss about sharing a laundry room with so many people is the laundry larceny. We all leave soap and bleach and whatnot downstairs on a shared shelf. And certain neighbors shamelessly steal other people's supplies. I had to laugh the first time I opened up our soap box, and saw the sign that Robb had made.
What's even more amusing is the bleach situation. Over the course of the last few months, someone has used up every drop of our bleach. We don't use tons of bleach, so it was pretty obvious that we had a thief in our laundry room. As a social experiment, Robb refilled the bottle with tap-water.
And within a week, someone robbed the contents of our bleach bottle.
I wonder if they were upset by how poorly the stolen bleach worked?
Suckers! Don't you know that crime never pays?
* Robb tells me that a group of mice is known either as a horde or a mischief. How cute is that?