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The Laundromat
by Laura Solomon and Kerryn Young

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Just because my hairdressing career was over didn’t mean I couldn’t excel at something else. I didn’t sit around feeling sorry for myself, didn’t cry, didn’t mope. Sure I got money from my Dad but I still wanted to join the workforce. I wanted to get out and meet people. I pulled myself up by my own bra straps. I got the local paper and looked in the Situations Vacant. I set my sights high. Luckily for me, the local laundromat was hiring. Senior Supervisor. I liked the ring of it. Maybe they would give me a shiny badge to wear on my chest.

I went along the following Monday to meet Beryl the boss of the Laundromat. She was wearing a velour tracksuit that showed off her mono bossom to full effect. She looked to be in her early sixities and was wearing immaculate full makeup – orange lipstick and blue eyeshadow.

“It’s a very important role,” said Beryl “You can start immediately. We need someone focused and efficient, people need their laundry clean and tidy and not mixed up, people don’t want their jock straps tangled up with their hankies. We pay top dollar – ten cents more than minimum wage so we therefore expect our workers to comply with certain standards. Presentation is key. Some girls let themselves go to seed after a while. I want you coming to work proud and pretty.”

Beryl gestured towards the stack of magazines, “These will keep you occupied, but don’t forget the customers. Remember the customer always comes first, and don’t be getting too full of yourself either. It’s a powerful position but don’t let it go to your head, the last girl we had to fire because she started interrupting peoples spin cycles, pushing buttons willy nilly. I’ve been a slave to this place for 35 years, you don’t need a husband when you work here - I’m married to the laundromat, may as well have a ring upon my finger.”

Beryl had a crush on Donald Trump – pictures of him were plastered on the walls of her office; Donald in his swimming pool wearing only his Speedos, Donald in the Oval Office looking authoritative, Donald lying on his bed on his stomach with his chin in his hands and his feet kicked up towards his bum like a Playboy bunny. There was also a picture of the famous man on her coffee mug.

She introduced me to one of my special duties which was to pick the tissue fluff off clothing after it had been through the washing machine. A tedious job but I did my best at it – I wanted to impress her. She pulled out two of the washing machines and told me it was my job to clean down the back of them. It looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in years. There were dead mice and lint, old tennis shoes and hankies down there - dead cockroaches too.

Second day on the job Beryl was with me supervising. A radio played quietly in the background. I was picking lint off a cardy when I just happened to hear the announcer say ‘And now it’s time for Dicks Forever! with their new hit single Back Door Boy.”

“Hey”, I said to Beryl. “Hey I did their hair! Turn it up a bit Beryl.”

I didn’t want to miss being attached to greatness if DF were going to get their fifteen minutes.

Beryl scowled but did as she was asked. The music played and then it was time for an interview.

“We’re here today with Benjamin Foolscap the lead singer of Dicks Forever! Benjamin would you tell us a little about the origins of your song Back Door Boy.”

“Sure. It’s about one time when I came home drunk and my dad wouldn’t let me in through the front door so I had to go round the back.”

“Okay. And who arranges venues for you to play in Benjamin or Benny. May I call you Benny?”

“Yes, please do. O Daddy’s very well connected. He arranges all our gigs. In fact most of the time he pays the pubs and clubs to take us. But I understand that’s normal.”

“I see. And that’s an intriguing name – Dicks Forever! Could you tell our eager listeners a little about how you came up with the name of your band.”

“Well, I feel that women have had their time in the sun. Feminism has run rampant. What about poor old men. We’ve been overrun. Women have taken over – in the boardroom and in the bedroom. We’ve had The Vagina Monologues. It’s time for the penis to have some power!”

“Thanks for that. Did you hear that listeners? It’s time for the penis to have some power. That was Benjamin Foolscap from Dicks Forever! enlightening us with his views. Thank you Benjamin.”

Beryl tut-tutted something about what is the world coming to and turned down the radio. She said she wanted to leave early so she gave me the keys to lock up, said it was a big responsibility but that she was trusting me.

I was leaving work that evening and was just turning the key in the lock, when somebody came up from behind and put a plastic garbage bag over my head, shoved both arms up behind my back and marched me over to a van that was waiting for me. I was roughly shoved up and into the van and then we sped off through the night. Kidnapped!

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