Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance

OK, I'm exaggerating. Anyone who knows me knows that the title of this post is very far from the truth... and if you can't be bothered to keep the nasty, dusty crud and shorthairs wiped off the rim of your toilet bowl, please don't talk to me. Shallow? Maybe. But in this case, I'd rather be shallow than scandalously uncouth.

However, I'm here now to tell you about my amazing discovery, which is not doing the laundry. You can actually pay people to do that shit for you. And that's exactly what I did today. And je ne regrette rien! In fact, I'm pretty damn pleased with myself.

I had actually made a lifestyle change many years ago that involved never, ever again washing and ironing my own dress shirts. Ironing is the most ridiculous chore on the planet, and if there are people willing to do it for money, well, I'm going to pay them. My time -- even if I'm just lying morosely in bed feeling sorry for myself -- is worth far too much to me to spend it doing the ironing. So $2 per shirt or so has seemed like a small price to pay for that luxury, especially since (a) I only wear a dress shirt to work maybe four or five times a month at most and (b) I can get a good two to three wearings of a dress shirt before it needs to be laundered again (yes, undershirts are key... otherwise, that would be gross; what do you think I am, a sweat-stained-shirt-wearing pig?).

Well, making the leap to sending the laundry out is just another level of epiphany.

Now, before anyone gets all up in my face about how I can't be bemoaning my debt and collection notices in one post and be trumpeting my lazy-assed, extravagant exploitation of immigrant labor in another, I need to explain a couple of things that might make this situation seem a smidge more economical:
1) The house in which I rent my apartment does not have laundry on premises
2) For the past three years or so, during which I've been car-less, I've depended on the kindness of a friend who would give me a lift to a laundromat, after which we'd spend a couple hours having coffee and reading the Saturday paper at the cafe across the street. Said friend has decided to end this ritual.
3) The primary option left to me would be to take taxis to the laundromat and back, which, after adding in the cost of the machines, would probably only cost $8-$10 less than the cost of same-day pick-up and delivery service of my dirty drawers.
4) As I only do laundry every other weekend, this will probably cost me only $20 or so per month more than the alternative, without the headache.

I'd be a fool not to outsource the sudsing of my scanties. Plus, it leaves time for more important tasks, like updating my Facebook status.

For those still shaking their heads in disbelief at the utter profligacy of it all, a final anecdote: I once read that the elites in colonial Brazil considered it fashionable to ship their clothing across the ocean to be attended to by laundresses in Lisbon. Now that is outrageous.


Salty Miss Jill said...

"Only a fool doesn't judge by appearances."--Oscar Wilde
And if sending your laundry out makes your life easier, what a small price to pay for your own time. :)

BigAssBelle said...

So much here . . . to start:

nasty, dusty crud and shorthairs wiped off the rim of your toilet bowl

I'll be back in just a minute, after I upchuck my breakfast. It brings to mind the even worse part of the toilet bowl, unfortunately: under the (gasp! puke!) rim.

On a happier note, you just keep on outsourcing those personal care chores, honey. You're (a) creating work for someone else and (b) giving yourself the gift of time. Mike and I long ago decided that having the housekeeper come in weekly was worth any price because it saved us many hours doing a chore we hated, it dramatically reduced marital strife, and we were able to experience the enormous pleasure of a spanking spotlessly housekeeper-quality clean house every week.

As I'm fast advancing upon my dotage and likely senility, I say life's far too short to do the things we don't want to do any more than we absolustly must (i.e. work to eat, etc.) There's not nearly enough time in this world for quiet contemplation, for coffee and reading, for taking naps. As you said, you'd be "a fool not to outsource the sudsing of (your) scanties."

btw, my papa, when he was in college in the early '30s, mailed his laundry home in a green canvas box/bag thingie that sits in my closet (in case I decide to mail my laundry somewhere).

Papagayo said...

one of my favorite things when i first moved to ny is that NO ONE here expects you to do your own laundry. i happily paid 60-65 cents a pound to have it done every 2 weeks; almost all my clothing, for $20-25. the best part: the sweet ladies asking me when i wanted it back. sometimes it could be 2 hours later, folded and smelling nice. i never lost one piece of clothing, and, as belle points out, i helped keep those ladies working. enjoy your free time!

Joe said...

Hey all: thanks for the comments and the approval!

Papagayo: are all the sweet laundry ladies in NYC still mostly Korean? What's the going rate? I bet it's sinfully cheap because of all the competition (which is sad in its own way). I'm paying $1.25/lb out here.

LadrĂ³n de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Oh, I could dedicate a couple of blogs to these posts. Ironing is, apparently, a regionally varying ritual. One of my exes who was Connecticut called me in despair one time because he had never owned or used an iron and needed instructions. The very use of it frightened and overwhelmed him. I was reminded of a USA Today survey on ironing practices around the country that showed it increased the further south you go in the country, with Dallas having the highest ironing activities per capita in North America. A staggering 33% of people there iron their SOCKS.

Joe said...

LdB: I say that if ironing makes someone happy, they should go for it. I think my grandmother enjoys it. And I have to admit that one of those newfangled, teflon-coated irons that's smooth as silk -- along with a dedicated laundry room or basement -- could possibly make it a little more pleasurable.

I've ironed my share of dress shirts -- enough to have decided that life is far, FAR too short for that kind of drudgery.

Papagayo said...

well, when I lived in Brooklyn last year it was 60 cents! and they were African-American ladies who were sweet as pie. My coworker reports on the Lower East Side it costs a little more than a buck a pound and they were asian. My dirty secret for you today: i moved into a place in uptown manhattan that has a... wait for it.... washer and dryer in the kitchen!

SubtleKnife said...

I don't mind ironing and I must say I really enjoyed it last week when I put on my ironed pajamas (not a regular occurrence, I just felt like it). I also like ironed jeans, but NO creases in them. EVER.

I do remember taking over from K. when he got bored doing a big stack of dress shirts. I was a bit worried because he does have a rather expensive taste in shirts and I don't have a lot of experience since I'm a woman and I don't have many myself...

Over here laundries aren't all that common.