On the Upside

by Tom Myatt


The ramblings of a young man and his struggle into independant living..

This story is not life changing and will not rock the world, however, I feel the need to vent for my own mental and emotional well being.

I awoke this morning in my hotel room. I cleaned my teeth, brushed my hair and put on my last set of clean clothes. It was that time of the week again where I would have to take a trip to the laundrette in the evening, if I wanted to avoid contracting dermatitis. I left for work and dwelled no further on the matter. Oh how foolish and naïve I was.

Upon returning from my shift, I swiftly crammed all of my laundry into two 'bags for life', which I had acquired a few weeks previously, and skipped merrily to the door. SNAP! The handle on one of my bags had given way to the immense pressure of socks and knickers, and left me with what can only be described as a flimsy bucket filled with my clothes. I grabbed it awkwardly and waddled to the door and struggled through it, leaving a trail of unwashed goods behind me. I loaded up the van, retrieved said goods, and off I went to the laundrette.

The drive was reasonably pleasant. As I pulled up outside the laundrette, I realised that the parking space that would usually accommodate three cars was taken up by two (what I can only describe as) cunts. However, I am not easily deterred and attempted to squeeze into the end of the space. I eventually found I just about fit, if I reversed right up to the bumper of the car behind me and, essentially, pin him in. 'Perfect', I thought, and I collected my bag and flimsy bucket and entered.

Now this laundrette is quite small and fairly narrow, seats lining one side, machines against the other and enough space left in between for one average sized person to walk sideways through. The lay out of the laundrette being as it is, I'd assume people would use the machine at the far end of the passage first and perch themselves on the opposite seats accordingly, thus minimising the need to clamber over people and leaving enough room in front of the other machines so that you can load and unload your washing. For the second time today, oh how foolish and naïve I was. I found the furthest machine was the only remaining one not in use. The previous user of the machine would have been first in and, therefore, first to leave, which is perfectly reasonable. However, this does not explain the imbecile that was sat in front of it (probably the same idiot that struggled to comprehend appropriate parking).

I negotiated my way through the narrow walk way, bumping and slapping people with my bag and bucket, and crammed my washing into the machine, my arse inches from the face of my nemesis. I stopped, panic coursing through me like an agoraphobic on the moon. I fumbled around in my pocket for my wallet, whipped it out and opened it to find it was bare, but for a few receipts. I needed a total of £6 in pound coins, three for washing and three for drying.

'A trip to the cash point then!' I said in my head, trying to keep the embers of my happiness aglow.

A short 2 minute walk around the corner and I reached a small shop with a cash point. I slip in my card, punch in my PIN, and wait to view my balance.


My Father went bald at a fairly young age and I fear the same fate for myself, otherwise, I probably would have wretched my hair from its roots.

'Not to worry though, I'll transfer myself £10 from my savings online' I thought, and with that, I grabbed my phone. Trying to find a signal in this part of the country is like Stevie Wonder trying to find Wally. I waited, waltzed around and waited some more, phone raised high (because this helps), and eventually I secured enough signal to complete the transaction.

'Okay, now we are in business!' I thought and, for the third time today, oh how foolish and naïve I was. I fed my card into the cash point, stabbed in my PIN and pressed the 'Cash Only' option. I selected £10 and waited patiently.

'Withdrawals in Multiples of 20 Only'.

A sore head and a hand full of hair later I found myself in the queue inside the shop, deciding whether I could pull off a comb over of if I'd brave the shave. The queue was long, the service was slow, and the cashier (a middle aged woman who was probably single and living with an abundance of felines) was having a nice, long conversation with a customer about literally fuck all. A fortnight later I arrived at the counter, feeling like Frodo when he reached the heart of Mount Doom.

I asked 'can I have £10 cash back in pound coins, please?' whilst smiling a smile I didn't think she deserved.

'No cashback without a purchase I'm afraid, young man' she replied, grinning.

'Okay, no problem' I said, grabbing a bag of 'Malteasers' from in front of me and placing them on the counter. £12 later I had my £10 but unfortunately it was a lot lighter than I had first expected. Upon closer inspection, I discovered this was mainly because she had handed me a £10 note. I specified on my arrival that the sole purpose of me entering this establishment was to attain pound coins, and she gave me a £10 fucking note. The queue was growing behind me and a few tuts and sighs were beginning to escape from it. Resisting the urge to violently murder her, and in true British fashion, I said 'Thank You' and went on my way.

Next door was a children's charity shop, and so I wandered through the door in pursuit of change. I busied myself flicking through the clothes and ornaments, trying to look like I was searching for something in particular whilst actually deciding if it was morally acceptable to enter a charity shop, without buying anything, to pillage them for change and then leave. I quickly determined that this wasn't okay, and that I should find something to buy. I then started to over think it slightly.

'If I buy something too cheap, they will know I am here just for change rather than charity, therefore they will know I am purchasing selfishly to make myself feel better about the situation, and they will condemn my soul to burn forever more in a fiery dungeon as a consequence'.

I stumbled across a book shelf, picked up Sharon Osbourne's auto-biography (remembering to do the 'I found what I was looking for' face), checked the price was suitable and carried it as proudly as I could to the check out where the book was scanned and my £10 note was taken.

'Can I have my change in pound coins, please?' I asked.

'I'll do my best, Dear, but we are short of change ourselves.'

She eventually returned with £3 in coins and a £5 note. This meant I now had enough to start my wash, but would have to continue my search for £3 more in change if I wanted dry clothes, and so I set off, soul intact.

I arrived at the laundrette and shuffled in. I clambered through the tangle of legs, semi hoping someone would trip me up, thus breaking my neck and ending my misery. I reached my machine, reunited my nemesis with my arse, and slipped the three pound coins in. It burst into life and soon my clothes would be having the life spun out of them.

'Phew, what drama', I thought to myself, and even began to find the whole thing a little funny. Yep, you guessed it, oh how foolish and naïve I was.

I leapt out of the laundrette and took a right, a little while up the street was a chip shop - my next attempt to procure some change. As I approached my heart sank, the lights were off, and as I got closer, I noticed the closed sign hanging in the window.

'It can't be long till opening time' I pondered to myself, and began scanning the window for opening times and, to my disbelief, I soon discovered the chip shop was closed all day today. I slumped down and sat leaning against the chip shop and thought 'I'd be better of sitting here begging for fucking change', whilst laughing to prevent myself from crying. I soon dismissed that awful idea and continued the relentless search for pound coins. A little while more up the street I came across a pub, which had its lights on, and was definitely open. I walked in and was greeted by the stench of cigarettes and the unapproving stare of the elderly locals, who looked like they had come in for a night out in their twenties and never left. I bravely approached the sticky bar and waited to be served.

'What can I get you?' the old bar man asked.

'A can of diet coke please' I said, instantly regretting it. A few sniggers and an 'are you a queer?' later, I had a can of diet coke and £4 in pound coins and was on my way back to the laundrette. Again.

Once again, I negotiated my way through the forest of limbs, as I passed people they muttered 'sorry' but made no serious attempt to remove themselves as an obstacle. To my surprise my nemesis had now moved to the tumble drying end of the room, so I took a seat in front of my washing machine, like any reasonably coherent human being would, and watched my washing spin. It didn't take me long to realise what I had done. Oh how could I be so stupid? Could this evening get any fucking worse? Whilst watching my washing spin round and round I noticed a lack of soap suds, probably due to the fact that I had neglected to add any soap. Worse still, I had forgotten to select a wash programme and so a default one was selected for me. 'Quick Wash'. I work on the railway and I get filthy on a daily basis, the last thing my clothes needed was a quick wash, with no fucking soap, in the same way the that last thing you'd do to defeat the incredible hulk would be to tickle him, with a fucking feather.

Beep. Beep. Beep. The wash cycle had ended and it was time to retrieve my grimy, wet clothes and dry them. This went surprisingly smoothly, as the laundrette had emptied some what allowing room for breathing and movement. The dryer was soon loaded and activated and now for a 30 minute wait. Half an hour passed and a few beeps signified my clothes were dry and it was time to me to pack my bag and bucket and return to my room. The two cars parked behind me had gone, and the drive home was trouble free.

I pulled up outside my room, lugged my belongings out of the van and in through the door. I set out that evening to wash my clothes. I returned with a bag of Malteasers, Sharon Osbourne's auto-biography and a can of diet coke, or as I like to think of it, the campest night in I've ever had. I also had rapidly cooling pile of filth known as my washing, which I would have to wear tomorrow and the days following because I wasn't going through that ordeal again. And lastly, I had my broken 'Bag for life' which would only be true if I had the life span of a moth.

Moral of the story? Let your mum do the washing.

On the up side, though, I had a pound coin left in my pocket.

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