Here is a little sensory exercise I did while at the coin laundry yesterday. It was pretty much the way I describe it, only I have a tendency to make things seem more dramatic than they are.
The light inside is not quite dim but not quite bright, it’s as though there is plenty of light but the light is grey and therefore seems darker than it ought to. The windows are no help as they appear opaque with paint spay on the glass along with dirt and water spots. If anything they make the room seem more enclosed than open. The walls too are not white though they are supposed to be. A film of grey has settled on them dulling their appearance and making the entire room feel darker.
The machines are a shamble. Half of the dryers have a sign that reads “do not use” taped to the glass on the front of the machine. Some of the washers as well are missing the glass altogether, rendering them inoperable. Even the ones that are not labeled as broken, or are clearly broken, show signs of wear that seem excessive for a laundry. There are dents and paint missing in parts that suggest the machines had survived some sort of bombardment. Perhaps they had.
There is dirt on the ground from the outside, and dust from the laundry swirled around on the floor in an almost intelligible pattern. Dryer sheets are scattered about, and a couple of socks that clearly do not go together and were somehow left behind in this wasteland to suffer endless loneliness.
The air is almost too hot to breathe. Somehow it is hotter in the building than out. It is humid in here and is nearly suffocating. Occasionally a hot breeze blows into the building pushing the door and making it swing, but this only serves to remind me of the desolation of the place.
The only noise is the humming and rumbling of the washing machine and the noise of cars passing by outside. The machine beeps loudly on occasion signaling the end of some action and the beginning of another, then continuing with its work.
I can’t even discern a specific sent in the place. I expected to smell detergent, and cotton, but smell nothing. This too is troubling. Like I am not actually in a laundry, but a building meant for another purpose, disguised as a laundry. The air smells stale is all—washed of any important sent.
There is a camera in the far corner of the room. It is pointed right at me and I glance at it regularly expecting that it is staring at me with nothing else to look at. Yet I wonder if it is even operating since there is no light flashing or any other indication that it is on. Another sphere is above me and to the right. Such things usually hide cameras but again I have no way of knowing whether anyone is watching. Somehow wondering if I’m being watched is worse than knowing that I’m being watched.
The entire place is like a ghost town. There is nothing but destruction and dirt around me. Graffiti and trash. Warning signs and instructions that have certain letters scratched off. Sitting here alone is making me feel as though I am trespassing somewhere dangerous.
Then she stepped in.