October 12, 2015
Yes, it may sound weird but I love doing my own laundry. My wife often gets a little upset with me when I do laundry since she perceives it as “her job.” I have tried to figure out why doing laundry gives me a feeling of calming pleasure, and I think I might have some insight into my weirdness…
As a very little boy, I remember helping my mother put clothes into the washing machine and then hanging them on the wire clothesline in the backyard. They consisted of several heavy gauge wires stretched between some pipe “T” frames. I remember using wood clothes pins and then taking the clothes off of the line and folding them. I also recollect putting jeans in starch and then inserting a metal frame to give them a crisp edge when they dried. I recall how upset I got when having to sleep on “itchy” sheets, which had just been taken off the outdoor clothesline. It always took a couple nights to break in the crisp sheets.
Reluctantly, I will share with you that I sometimes used the location of these hard-to-see clotheslines around dusk as weapons. I would often get kids to chase me around dusk or at night, and I would head for the clotheslines. You see, I knew where the low lines were positioned… I would duck at the right time and those chasing me wouldn’t! It was not very nice, but it was a very effective method to stop those in pursuit. Thank God no one was killed.
I remember as a very young boy working with my father’s mother, Effie Cora Sparks-King-Morvaitts at a commercial laundry in San Antonio that she operated and managed by herself. She taught me to pay attention to details, like checking the pockets for her customer’s forgotten valuables, or to look for soiled areas that needed special attention. She treated strangers’ clothes as if they were her own most prized items. I sorted countless dirty underwear and folded what seemed like a zillion sheets with my grandmother’s close supervision for quality. I remember the countless directives to not put my hands near my mouth and to wash my hands regularly. This is where I had my first encounter with a wonderful machine, called a gas clothes dryer!
How can I ever forget when our home washer was repossessed (along with everything else), forcing us to load up our clothes and take them to a coin-operated laundry, next door to a beer joint that my father would frequent? This is where I learned to do a pre-wash inspection of the washers to ensure that it was clean prior to start. I also learned to inspect the inside of the dryer to make sure there wasn’t anything like a kid’s crayon or gum left inside someone’s pocket. I also learned that sometimes you could even find money inside a washer to purchase a cold drink!
After graduating from college, I got an apartment that had a coin-laundry on site. I felt I had gone to heaven! I was ecstatic when I eventually got an apartment with a washer and dryer right there in my unit for my very own personal use. I didn’t need any change and I didn’t have to thoroughly inspect the machines each time I wanted to use them! I felt like I really had arrived.
Just maybe, when I wash my clothes today, the act allows me to recall all of my memories from the past, of serving others as I helped with their laundry. Today I truly appreciate the blessing of owning my own washer and dryer that don’t require coins and are housed in a clean and safe environment. Maybe doing laundry to me is a true blessing that I don’t take for granted! Who knows, but maybe learning how to do laundry helped me to learn to pay attention to details, deliver quality services and focus on customer satisfaction. The same level of detail instilled in me over 50 years ago has remained with me in all that I do. Having shared this story, maybe now, my wife, of over 30 years, Barbara, will finally let me do my laundry in peace!
Written by KING AEROSPACE Founder, Jerry Allan King-Echevarria.