Photo Essay

Pristine Coin Laundry

the doll's house

There's a laundromat up the street from my girlfriend's place that's always peaked my interest. It sits next to one of my favourite coffee shops in an area of town where walkers are the vehicle of choice. If Victoria is the retirement capital of Canada, James Bay is the retirement capital of Victoria. It's a fairly well-off, odd, quaint little area. Some of the best kept historic homes in the city. (Along side with the retirement 'casas' and apartment blocks.) The area, despite it's apparent affluence also has this oddly placed Laundromat of Hades. It seems to have been plucked out of a repressed area of Bukowski's psyche and plopped down in doily town. Across the street from the over-priced grocery store, a stone's throw from Starbucks (oh heaven forefend! Don't worry, there's 15 more within a 5 minute radius), on the same block as a florist and an optometrist is this place that looks like you can buy nothing but bad news. In rock or powder form.

It is aptly named Pristine Coin Laundry.

So of course this evening I went in to do my laundry. With my camera. It is the weirdest place. There was a man who'd looked like he'd been beaten up by Jack Daniel himself with his back to the front window, sleeping sitting up. I went about putting my laundry in a machine and started wandering around the little place. As I snapped away I got a little involved as I usually do. 'Sleepy' began to move a bit. By that I mean, he got up and stood in various places staring into space. I thought that was weird, but I was photographing washing machines, so who was I to judge? I snapped away. The walls were covered in old calendar photos and mentally disturbed juvenile scratchings. Puppies. Misspelled profanity. Mountain vistas. Punch marks. Porcelain dolls. The occasional breast self-examination pamphlet. You know, the usual laundromat decor. When I was switching my laundry into the dryer 'Sleepy' staggered over and told me to save my money. I stopped taking financial advice from hobos a few years ago so I told him I was fine doing it my way.

'N-n-n-nah! Y'got t'use THIS ma-machine. It's free.'

'It's ok, thanks. I'll use this one' The one I had chosen was much newer & looked a lot more trustworthy.

''N-n-n-nah! Y'jess gotta punch this one right here.' Sleepy punched the machine and as though we'd been visited by the ghost of The Fonz it started up.

'Wow! Neat.' I said and continued to load my machine. 'How long'll it do that for? I gotta go next door and get a coffee, I don't want it to stop on me.'

'N-n-n-nah! This thing'll run f'ra full hour! I swear.' he said as the machine chugged to a halt. 'Nah! Save y'er money.' He said and punched the machine again. It started up again as I plugged my the last quarter in my machine and pushed start.

'Next time.' I said.

'Yeah. Don't forget ok, buddy? Next time. It's free, this one. Y'jess gotta punch it.'

'I'll remember that. Thanks.'

I went next door to the coffee house & got a refill on my dark roast. When I got back Sleepy's friend had arrived. He looked a bit like Willie Nelson after a week on a stagecoach.

...but my conversation with him is another story.

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