Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Laundromat Madness

Brisbane, Australia has received a deluge of rain for the past 4 days, and this has brought about floods in North Queensland, closures to major roads in Queensland and it has sent domestic technicians in droves to the queue in Laundromats as Sokha and I experienced this evening. After attending two local Laundromats, we finally settled to lowering our baskets behind other patrons who were eagerly waiting for their opportunity to feed their clean but soiled clothing in an empty dryer. As you could imagine, it was like watching the grass grow, but the friendly banter between strangers made the wait more pleasant.

I could see that we were going to be in the queue for quite some time until advice from one of the women in the queue suggested that we try another local Laundromat, which she had driven to, while leaving her baskets and scouted the place for herself. Sokha, one other, the advisor and myself left to try the suggested Laundromat. It was no surprise that there was also a queue there, but the dyers were bigger and hotter than the others, and there was a blue piece of paper with a list of names, some crossed off and some that weren't. I learnt quickly that you had to put your name down to indicate your position in the queue. This I thought was clever, but what was even more fascinating was this piece of paper plus it's pen was able to bring order to an otherwise grumpy and guessing crowd. There was no enforcer, although the odd announcer gave the occasional update as to who was up and who was next. I counted the list and there were 56 names, who all agreed and complied to the simple rule of writing your name down and waiting your turn. Other's came, saw the overwhelming queue, and left, other's wrote their name down and waited some 30mins or less, then crossed their name out and left, and some came, wrote their name down, and patiently waited 45mins to 1 hour for their turn.

No one ever challenged their position, or rebelled and it really showed that there was a touch of obedience in the name of fairness to our fellow citizens. The first name on the list was "Jason" but who was he in the scheme of things? He obviously wasn't around any more and yet his initiative of bringing order to the Laundromat queue was still being complied to.

I was reading an interview (in a local gig paper sitting on a table while waiting for clothes to dry) of a singer name "Kei$ha". And she emphasised how much she liked watching her fans and other people in the audience just letting go and allowing themselves to be free in the music. Her outlook and intention in her music was for the listener to let loose and not worry about rules and be free. But reality is, real freedom comes from a stipulation of rules. And in tonight's case, it doesn't need to be passed through the court of law. This law was adhered to, because everyone had the understanding that it was fair. And if you wrote your name down and stuck it out, you got your turn, and you left satisfied with the completed task and the manner in which it was conducted.

If we then could bring ourselves to submit to the law of the Laundromat that possibly originated from Jason, surely we must question the other laws that we live by in fairness to our fellow man. Where does that come from? Why do we have an intrinsic desire to obey a moral law of fairness? Of not killing, stealing etc. Is it intrinsic? I certainly don't think so. Who wrote the blue (print) paper for us? Ask me, I'll tell you.

Well, Sokha and I eventually left the Laundromat and hour and a half from the time we had arrived. But the task was completed and we have dry clothes to wear until next time we may need to attend. This time I'll be sure to carry a piece of paper and a pen.......and Jason whoever you are, thank you for your initiative in implementing a much needed policy.

Shalom,

Dave