Sunday, April 26, 2020

Tucson, AZ: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 17: Laundry Economics Revisited

At the laundromat. El Paso, Texas. February 2019.

As a renter who lives in budget apartments that don't include washers and dryers, I use communal laundry facilities. Fortunately, all of my domestic apartment choices thus far have included facilities on-site.

It was in 2013, when I lived in Lafayette, Louisiana, that I first learned some lessons about laundry economics. This was the first time in my domestic rootless life when I had to pay to use a washer and dryer.

Not mentioned in that 2013 post about laundry economics was another lesson I learned. I remember clearly the elation I felt upon this discovery. Which was: Buy more pairs of underwear! What a eureka moment!

Underwear takes up so little space and is so light! By having more pairs of underwear, I could extend the number of days without having to do laundry! I don fresh underwear each day, and although I could handwash it, I don't want the hassle. I do feel okey-dokey about wearing external clothing three, or maybe even four times, before tossing it into the laundry bin. (Since COVID keeps me home most days, four times is common.)

So now enter COVID.

There are two laundry facilities in my apartment complex.

One day, in March, the managers suddenly closed the facilities due to COVID!

They directed tenants to nearby(ish) laundromats.

To protect tenants and apartment management staff.


Diverting tenants from a relatively low-traffic, on-site facility to one that would be often filled with customers? And where one must hang about said laundromat until the laundry was complete, thereby extending the duration of exposure to and from others?  It was a decision that would result in greater danger of exposure to tenants (and to other Tucsonans), rather than less.

And what about the tenants who had no transportation? Or single-parent tenants with young children, who would have to schlep their kiddos to the laundromats, putting them at greater risk for contagion? 

Fortunately, after (I assume) some consternation expressed by tenants (including me), the management sought and found processes to protect both tenants and office staff, and they re-opened the on-site facilities some days later.

But the closure prompted me to consider strategies to change my usual practice of once-a-week, one-load laundry work to every other week.

I counted out my underwear. Twelve.

I have bought six more pairs of underwear.

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