"Manners Matter"

by Mary Jane Wilkie

image1Who hasn’t had issues with laundry? You walk into the laundry room and find:

  • Detergent spilled on top of a machine
  • Clothes left in the machine after washing or drying is complete
  • Someone is using the cart when you need it, and isn’t in a rush to finish

We may not all agree on how to proceed in these cases, so here are suggestions for what good neighbors do routinely, and what we can to when our neighbors are less than considerate.

Detergent spilled on top of a machine: If YOU spill it, wipe it up. We have been promised wipes for our laundry rooms, and perhaps by the time you read this, they will be there. If they are not, let one of your board members know, and please, take the time to bring paper towels from your own apartment to clean up. If others haven’t cleaned up their spills: shame on them! Just because they didn’t doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.

Clothes left in a washer or dryer after completing the cycle: Everyone has multiple timing devices, so use whatever will get you to the laundry when your cycle is complete. If a neighbor has failed to remove clothes, don’t be shy about removing them from the machine, placing them gently in either the cart or on the table to await their owner.

Someone is using the cart when you need it, and isn’t in a rush to finish: There isn’t much you can do besides stand by, hoping your neighbor will observe and be a good neighbor. You might strike up a conversation so that, even if it takes more time than you planned, you have a sense of the other person. Knowing your neighbors is the best way to foster cooperation and a sense of community.

And has it ever happened that you’re in the elevator with your dirty laundry, and a neighbor gets on the elevator, armed with dirty laundry? From the looks of things, the machines might not accommodate both of you. What can you do? I have engaged in “negotiation” in these instances, which means having a conversation about priorities and flexibility. It’s an opportunity to get better acquainted, and you may make a friend. By the way, our residents who work on Broadway often do laundry on Mondays, when not engaged with a show. I try to avoid washing on Mondays for that reason.

Some of the laundry rooms have a “book exchange.” If yours doesn’t, you might consider starting one. The laundry is our most accessible common area in Fort Tryon Gardens, a potential meeting place, an opportunity to get acquainted, to learn about your neighbors. Friendliness is your best ally in the war on dirty laundry.


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Mary Jane

Mary Jane Wilkie has been teacher (music, children’s theatre, Spanish, and ESL), had a corporate career (sales and marketing), and a career as a translator. She has given workshops and presentations on various music and spiritual topics, and has published articles on children and music. She has been music director of high-school musicals and director of children’s theatre workshops. She currently works as an independent contractor, deriving most of her income from recruitment for a national non-profit. She also served as a Fort Tryon Gardens board member beginning in 2015.

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