Editorial Notebook: The Saturday Morning Ordeal

It's Saturday morning. Groggy-eyed, you open your underwear drawer and the sinking reality hits you: it's laundry day again. You lug your sack of laundry--usually a parting gift from your parents as a last hurrah before college--and bottle of Tide down 36 flights of stairs. And then you realize that you forgot your swipe card and your laundry ordeal begins.

Laundry at Harvard is a far more difficult process than it ought to be. About the time you're half-way across the courtyard (because it would be entirely too convenient for Harvard to have located laundry machines in the basement of every first-year dorm), you realize that a t-shirt, sweats and flip-flops aren't about to cut it when the temperature is 40 below. Of course, when you finally get to the laundry room, you find that the one deranged person who woke up before ten to do his laundry has used up all of the machines. Rather than brave the cold a second time, you opt to wait for the washer with six minutes left on its timer, and find out that a washer with six minutes left on the display takes about as long as a football game with six minutes left on the clock.

Annoyed that the owner of the clothes occupying said washer wasn't waiting diligently to switch his clothing to the dryers, you decide to pay him a favor and courteously dump his wet clothing on the nearest nominally clean surface, convincing yourself that the sticky goo is water, not congealed detergent. At long last you can start your laundry--the first of six loads--and the odyssey has begun. And for the next three hours, you trek back and forth switching each load...

Inevitably, however, when you have one load in the washer and one in the drier, you get an e-mail from your TF reminding you about that problem set you forgot to turn in last Friday. Dinner comes next and only later that evening do you remember your long-neglected laundry, returning to find that some equally courteous person has dumped your wet clothes on that puddle of goo--what a jerk, couldn't he tell that it wasn't water?--and your dried clothes have returned to the dust-bunny lair from whence they came.

All this pain, and all you wanted was a pair of clean boxers. Surely there must be a better way.

I can't help with the washer and dryer congestion; it's our own fault that everyone does their laundry over the weekend. I can't help with the annoyance of not having a standard issue washer-drier in each suite to match the pulp-board desk and bookshelf--unless someone you know would volunteer to buy 2000 of them to go with our new lamps.

But the real pain of the laundry process college-style could really be alleviated if people would do each other a simple favor--a $1 courtesy or a 10-minute favor every now and then. Imagine if after being waylaid in a conversation or lunch, you came down to find your wet clothes already happily tumbling in the drier. How cool would it be if after forgetting to get your clothes out of the drier in time to cut wrinkles, you got down to find your laundry neatly folded on a clean surface, not lying amongst swaths of lint and old drier sheets on the floor?

One dollar, ten minutes. This is the perfect example of something that goes around and comes back around. Take the time, do the favor. We'll love you for it, you'll love us for it. And we'll all spend our weekends happier.