My apartment complex has a little laundry room down at the bottom of the stairs. 4 washers, 4 dryers, $1.00 each machine. Obviously, there’s a little bit of luck involved if you think you’re going to snag a machine after work, and tonight I was just that lucky. I only had $2 in quarters, so I had to be selective. Sheets were going to have to go yet another week, I had enough socks to last me a little while, underwear was a priority of course, as were my very few hip-ish shirts. As I loaded the washer, I looked around and saw a dryer with only $0.25 needed. Some poor sap had miscalculated how many quarters he had, and I was only two bits away from a dry instead of the usual rock. Looking stealthily around I saw only one other washer going with less time than mine. If the fates smiled on me, I would be back down and loading that dryer before my competition was the wiser. I hurriedly finished loading my washer, set the thing to “undulate”, ran up stairs, and set a timer.

A re-run of Friends later, I’m downstairs and throwing clothes into my prize. A few seconds after I start, my competition walks in. She doesn’t know what she just lost, but to me she looks defeated all the same. Dial in my preferred settings (permanent press, medium heat), pull a new gleaming quarter with some representation of Georgia stamped on it out of my pocket, slide it into the slot and…nothing. Quick whack on the change box…nothing. Damn. Looking inside I see the remnants of the other beady-eyed laundry jockeys’ attempts at pulling a fast one on The Establishment. I, however, am an engineer, and if there’s one thing about our breed, we like to tinker with things until they work. Run upstairs, luckily find an extra quarter to start my laundry going regardless, grab the broken off end of a hack saw I’ve been saving for apparently just this occasion, and head downstairs again. I throw my wet clothes into the next-door dryer and start it up. Close the door to the laundry room and set to work.

15 minutes, several kicks, and a hundred hack saw jabs in the slot later, I was $3.00 richer and Master of the Universe. I guess those sheets are going to get washed after all.

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