Growing up, media painted a picture in my mind of the stereotypical college student. Messy rooms, long nights writing papers and loads of dirty laundry seemed inevitable. Now, with one quarter of college under my belt, I realize that some of these generalizations actually hold some truth.
I can say that I have pulled all-nighters finishing work before a deadline, ingested a fair share of Easy Mac and allowed my laundry basket to surpass healthy levels. However, when my lack of clean clothes finally wore down my patience, I discovered that maybe one stereotype is not enough to sum up a college student’s approach to laundry. Instead, I believe there are different varieties of personalities in the laundry room. I thought I would outline a few that I have found in my first months at Stanford.
First is the rookie. This student has always been lucky enough to have a parent or loved one do their laundry growing up, but figuring that it must not be that hard, opts to figure it out on their own in college. From my experience, the majority of people were in this position at some point, with varying levels of success. For some, pink underwear or shrunken clothes are the worst consequences they face; for others, the mistakes are harder to come back from, such as overly soapy clothes and moldy fabric. The largest lessons that these students learn are that just one Tide Pod does the trick, sorting is important and leaving wet clothes in the basket to dry is not the equivalent of putting them in the dryer.
Next is the power washer. This person has an agenda when they walk in the room — get their clothes washed and dried as quickly as possible. Power washers warrant respect but also require a lot of bravery and discipline. It is not uncommon for the power washer to wait by occupied machines and dump others’ clothes out right when the timer goes off or cut in front of lines to finish their work. Other laundry doers are usually not too fond of the power washer after finding their freshly washed clothes on a chair or turning back to the dryers after a quick greeting to a friend to find the machine they had been waiting for stolen in the span of seconds.
On the other end of the spectrum are the patient patriots. These people are so nice that they will allow others to use the machines before they do, even if they have been waiting way longer. After a long day of classes or a way-too-early start to your day, a smile from this kind of laundry doer will surely brighten your day. They are always polite and willing to lend you a Tide Pod in times of need, but being so nice comes at a cost. Sometimes, by the time you are done with your laundry, they will just be starting. Among the stresses of college, I have to wonder if anyone stays so patient for long.
Finally, there are the night owls. As the name might imply, these college students invade the laundry room late at night after procrastinating their trip for weeks, and to say they have a big load is an understatement. Coming to the laundry late at night allows them to use four or five machines at a time, and while they are waiting, they are known to keep themselves entertained. I can say that I have walked into the laundry room surprised to find people dancing around to their music or curled up in a chair watching Netflix. My friend even told me a story of the time she witnessed a bad break-up on speaker phone when retrieving her dried clothes one Saturday night.
As for me, I have fallen into all of these categories at one point or another, and I probably will continue to jump around based on the day, week or even quarter I am having. Unfortunately, laundry is a part of life, so cheers to another quarter of dirty clothes and different personalities in the laundry room!
Contact Trisha Kulkarni at trishak8 ‘at’ stanford.edu.