Adulthood, shame and 99 loads worth of spilled detergent

How I almost died doing my own laundry for the first time


I’ve always hated asking for help. I suppose it comes from a misplaced sense of pride. If I have a problem, it makes me feel like an adult if I can solve it alone. Unfortunately, whenever I can’t solve a problem alone, I tend to just kind of let the problem seethe until it becomes a raging inferno that horribly burns me and my ego and then sets fire to my entire life.

Enter college.

When I arrived at the University, I was more determined than ever not to ask for help. Unsurprisingly, my awful decision to put pride before logic meant I had to make certain sacrifices. Among these sacrifices was the decision not to do a single load of laundry during my first four weeks at the University because I was too embarrassed to admit that I had no idea how.

Yes, I am afraid to say that, despite my self-declared independence, I had never done a load of laundry. So — instead of the doing the adult thing and asking for help — I decided to just put the problem off altogether.

By the fourth week of avoiding laundry, however, I was completely out of clothes. Finally accepting defeat, I somehow managed to cram four weeks’ worth of laundry — and my detergent — into a bag and went to the laundry room. I paid for a load and then sheepishly pulled up the wikiHow for “How to do laundry” on my phone.

Step One: Open washing machine.

I opened the washing machine.

Step Two: Place clothes in washing machine.

I started to shovel laundry out of my bag and into the machine.

“Nailing this,” I whispered to myself.

Then my hand brushed against something … strange. It was sticky like glue, but deathly cold. I looked down to see the substance slathered all over my clothes. It was spilling everywhere, gushing out of the bag and onto the floor like a torrent of lava from a volcano.

It was my laundry detergent. In my haste to cram all my clothes into the tiny laundry bag, the container’s cap popped off and I hadn’t even noticed. Now, the gallon-sized detergent bottle had completely emptied onto my clothes. I started to panic. In retrospect, I should have just put the entire laundry bag into the washing machine. Instead — in a haze of fear — I grabbed everything I could and ran back upstairs, leaving a trail of detergent in my wake.

Barging into my floor’s bathroom, my first thought was to dump everything in the sink and wash away the detergent with water. Bad idea. After all, one tiny cup of laundry detergent is enough to fill an entire washing machine with suds. Just imagine what happened when I poured water onto nearly a gallon of it in a shallow sink. A surge of chemical bubbles roared out of the basin and onto the floor. Within seconds, half of the bathroom was flooded with foam.

Panicking, I grabbed my fizzing mess of clothes and carried them into a shower. Now utterly soaked, I turned on the faucet and let the water gush over me and my volcanic laundry. Soapsuds filled the air, but I could tell the detergent was starting to wash down the drain.

Just when I thought everything was finally going okay,  I slipped and fell face-first onto the floor. Thankfully, my outstretched hand kept my head from cracking against the bathroom tiles, but only by a matter of inches. I lay there in shock, my poor laundry strewn about in disarray. Nobody — I realized in that moment — had probably ever screwed up doing a load of laundry as badly as I just had.

I still dislike asking for help. That being said, almost dying after failing to do something as simple as a load of laundry showed me that — like it or not — sometimes I need it. Yesterday, it was time to do another load. I asked for a little help moving everything to the laundry room this time. And I’m okay with that.

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