It may seem obvious to say, but laundry is very important out here. The heat and the trudging around all day mean that the average person can go through quite a bit of laundry! My first week I found especially challenging – simply because we were in introductory training all day, so I was tired at the end of the day; I was still acclimating to the weather and the time change, so I was REALLY tired at the end of the day; and I wasn’t exactly sure where everything was located on the camp. Why is this important? The camp is big. It takes me about fifteen minutes to walk just about anywhere (one way – wait, that sounds like the Pentagon parking lot!). So adding another thirty minutes of walking at the end of the day (to go do laundry, get my Internet password) was not exactly something I was jumping up and down to do. Knowing only the general direction didn’t help – any missteps just meant I was out there longer.
Consequently, I put it off. The laundry piled up a bit. The first time I walked into one of the laundry services (there are several on base, with a couple of self-service places as well), I had two good-sized laundry bags worth of clothes. I let out a small sigh of relief. Clean clothes would be mine again soon.
There were two gentlemen inside, and they were very nice. They started to do the paperwork for me, and even separated my laundry further into two more bags (yes, I had a lot built up at this point). Then he said, “three days”. A small intake of breath, a quick review on the clean clothes I had left in the room, and an internal cost-benefit analysis to how long I really wanted to be up that night (already 7 PM) caused me to ask, “where is the self-service laundry?” I really couldn’t wait three days for clean clothes. I was already on my last set of utilities. I told one of the gentlemen behind the counter this. They looked at each other; one made a few gestures and comments in a language I didn’t understand. Then he said to me, “how much do you want in 24 hours?” Bless his heart! He agreed to take half of the clothes and get them done in 24 hours, the rest in 72.
I was inordinately happy the next evening when I went to pick up my clean clothes. Life was good again. Clean clothes, a hot shower, a good meal are all things that make a big difference when you’re not used to getting them. This was just one more step in my acclimation process.
Now that I have settled into a fairly regular routine, I take my laundry in every two days. That keeps me in clean socks and t-shirts, and allows them their 72-hour turnover. I still don’t have the time, or the energy, to do my own laundry. The self-service areas are usually full of Marines, and by the time my day ends, the last thing I want to do is spend another two hours waiting at the local neighborhood “Laundromat”. So I am very grateful for the laundry services provided to us. I’m grateful every time I walk in the door, and the gentleman remembers who I am, and smiles – whether I’m there at 6 AM or 7 PM.