In each glamourous life, a little laundry must be done. So that’s why I’m sitting in a hot little laundromat called Lavapiumone in Bologna on a Monday night.
From the pictures it looked pretty nice. Clearly it was a promo shot. I was really supposed to go to LaveLave but somehow missed it altogether. It had seats.
Unlike Vancouver, laundromats in Italy are entirely self serve and there is no one to help. If you’re lucky, some of the instructions might be in English. I wasn’t so lucky. Happily, I can read enough Italian to get by, although I did put the detergent into the softener section.
My fellow Laundromates
Laundromats have a way of throwing people together that might not otherwise be in the same room.
An older gentleman came in after me. He couldn’t figure out that you had to wait for the cycle to start. So, he continued doing battle with the machine, punching buttons randomly. I tried to help, but he completely ignored me. Finally, the machine started and he stormed out.
Next a young student came in, with his entire wardrobe in a suitcase. I smiled at him. At first, he was startled but then seemed genuinely happy to be acknowledged. As I passed him on the street later, we both smiled at each other again.
Then two older gents came in and didn’t acknowledge me. The amazing invisible woman!
The Human Parade
If it wasn’t for the marble sidewalks and architecture outside the door, I really could have been anywhere. I stood in the doorway and watched the world go by. The human parade outside the door had the same characters I’ve seen in many places. I like to smile at people and see how they react.
There was the older couple, out for an evening stroll. They were to holding hands.
An elderly woman walked by and smiled a frail but genuine smile. The woman, my age, rolled her eyes when I smiled. Another actually stuck her nose in the air. Generally, all the younger women were too busy looking aloof to look my way. I’m so glad I’m not young anymore! It’s way too much effort to act that cool.
There were the scarecrows, the young men who are constantly moving like coyotes, looking over their shoulders all the time. They came in to make change in the machine and leave again.
The older gentlemen were kinda fun. Some were a little uncertain but did return my smile. Others, I could see, were trying to figure out if there was something else on offer than just a smile.
Google maps indicated there was a gelateria around the corner – and it was going to close in 30 minutes. Priorities set, laundry on the way, I headed out. The side street had 3 or 4 cafes and all were very lively for a Monday night. At the first café, a group of graduates were cheering on a fellow grad who was drunk singing. Nothing unusual there.
I reached my destination. There was no one in the shop and the ice cream bins were covered. NO!! I
opened the door and asked, “Chuiso?” The young girl in the waved me in. Right behind me came a mother and daughter. Discussion went back and forth about flavours, the virtue of one over the other. Finally, the mother sat down and said, “You decided for me. I’m too tired to decide.” Meantime the server asked if I wanted hot fudge sauce on the bottom of my cup. “Oh yeah!” I blurted out. The server smiled at my enthusiasm.
People are People
I’ve always believed that people genuinely want to share a smile and connect in some way. Not always, sometimes you can have an off day. But you’ll always find the friendly ones if you smile. If you ask nicely, people generally like to help out. And while there are stereotypes everywhere It’s comforting to know that no matter where you go, people are basically the same.