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Let Me Tell You About My Laundromat

January 24, 2007

Continuing south along Kingsland Avenue from George’s Deli, passing the 102/104/106 block of houses, you’ll soon pass, a few blocks away and on the west side of the street, a supermarket. Just south of here is my laundromat.

The laundromat, which has large banks of shiny silver washers and dryers, is also a drycleaning and wash ‘n’ fold place — which latter service I most often use. The couple that runs (and, I assume, owns) the laundromat are Korean, and are obviously first-generation, as they speak very little English. They are a grey-haired, spectacles-wearing man and a delicate, fine-boned woman, both of whom always seem to have the hint or beginnings of a smile on their faces, even though they work what appears to be 12+ hours a day, seven days a week. They have begun teaching me, intermittently, how to say a few things in Korean, including hello and goodbye. Apparently to say hello and goodbye in Korean you start by saying the same word, “Annyong” (this may be familiar to some TV viewers out there) and then pairing that with another word, which in the case of hello is “Gah-say-oh” (I think) and in the case of goodbye is “Kah-say-oh.” I could, however, be entirely off on this latter word of the construction, and I think I am, as, like I said, their English isn’t so great and my Korean’s worse.

But their son’s English is fine. I don’t quite know how he came from these two small people, as he’s a Yao Ming-looking fellow, tall and solid, but he did. He helps out in the laundromat from time to time, though obviously he has school to attend. He’s confident and clearly smart, always very approachable in the laundromat. Or, rather, he approaches you.

And the thing is, is that in this laundromat is the American dream in microcosm: two Korean immigrants, relatively fresh off the boat, running a laundromat with little English and their son going to school. He will go to college and get a degree, perhaps somewhere in the city, and his children will not work in a laundromat, and will all go to college. They will probably talk like Americans, and will sound strange to their mannered, immigrant grandparents — but their grandparents will be proud nevertheless, if a bit mystified by these children, so close yet so far away from them.

Wash ‘n’ fold service (same day) is 80 cents a pound; there is a $5 extra charge for large comforters and blankets. Open 7 days/week, 6am to 8pm, closed Sundays at 6pm.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jake-Freedom permalink
    January 24, 2007 1:30 pm

    Dude – I’m loving this Mr. Rogers Neighborhood thing. I find myself excited to come to work and meet the new people on your block everyday – but I want to see some pictures of these places, you know, to help the imagination flow.

  2. JBG permalink
    January 24, 2007 3:35 pm

    An excellent idea Mr. Freedom. Photos would we a welcome addition. Muppets too.

  3. human resources permalink
    January 24, 2007 9:40 pm

    RE: your blogger profile. As I recall, you are no longer a ‘travel editor.’ Perhaps ‘cultural attache’ would be more appropriate.

  4. Jeffery permalink
    January 25, 2007 11:32 pm

    gee, wash’n’fold in God-awful Manhattan is only 60 cents a pound. What gives?

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