I have discovered an axiom of Hood River laundromats, in that at any point in time at least one quarter of all washers and dryers must be out of order. At first I thought this only applied to the laundromat in the Heights, which besides its defunct collection of machines isn’t all that bad as far as laundromats go. Well, as far my standards go for judging a “quality” laundromat, it isn’t bad. I guess.
Given Kate’s account, which includes a four-month tour of every laundromat across the Great American West, perhaps I have unduly low expectations given my experience in Hood River. She is typically aghast when I describe an average Hood River laundromat, and assures me that such traits are not universally present in laundromats the country over.
Okay, despite the 25% failure rate of its 1980s vintage collection of washers and dryers, the Heights Laundromat isn’t bad. It has slippery yellow plastic seats, a working Neo-Geo arcade machine, and a kick-ass dollar store next door. Plus, there’s this huge and cool wooden bench out front with the words Heights Laundromat burned into it, that has a great view of Mount Hood when the weather is nice, and an even better view of the parking lot when the weather is bad. Seriously, you can see the parking lot so well that you almost feel like you’re there.
Now, for the longest time I thought the Heights Laundromat was the only gig in town. Business directories and Google Maps suggested differently, but every time I went in search of a fabled second laundromat I turned up empty-handed. Back in October I would drive up and down the street keeping a keen eye out for this laundromat, never to find a thing. There was the paint store, the car wash, the diner that was obsessed with eggs, but alas, no laundromat.
I finally stumbled upon it this past weekend, when I was quite literally on my way to the Heights with a load of laundry. Turns out the Westside Laundromat has a few things going against it, not the least of which is the fact that it’s listed on the wrong side of the street in Google Maps. The lettering is peeling off its sign, and what’s more, it’s attached to the Chinese restaurant. In my quest for alternative laundromats, I never thought to check the Chinese restaurant.
While smaller than the Heights Laundromat, one couldn’t exactly describe the Westside Laundromat as cozy. The front door barely fits in its metal frame, and it protests violently every time someone makes an entrance. The few arcade games that are available are tucked into a back room, and aren’t even turned on for that matter. There are instructions that remind you to check inside dryers for children and pets before loading, but neglect to tell you to keep an eye out for, say, other people’s clothing.
What Westside Laundromat lacks in ambience, however, it makes up for in proximity. While the Heights is nearly a whole mile from my house, Westside is a measly block. Yup. One block from my house, and it took me two months to find it.
If Hood River is any indication, owning a laundromat seems like a pretty sweet business. You open up the place in the morning and you lock it up at night. You spend your day kicking around town doing whatever you find prudent, while in the meantime people are jamming your face full of quarters. Your infrastructure is at least a quarter-century old and requires no modernization, and if anything breaks down it’s nothing a sheet of notebook paper, a Sharpie and a piece of tape can’t fix.
Maybe I’ve got this freelance web design thing all wrong.