An ongoing theme you may find here on my blog is what a hassle life in New York City is. Take laundry for example. Most urbanites have three options: 1) send it out if you can justify or afford it, 2) schlep it to the laundromat, or 3) if you are lucky enough to have a laundry room in your building, do it yourself down there. That's what I do. There are three machines and two dryers (don't ask me why, I ask myself every time I'm down there.) And each one takes $1.50 per load, in quarters only. With a growing family we have 4-6 loads per week so that comes out to $50-60 per month. In quarters only.
Quarters play a big part in my life here, being the currency of both laundry and parking. Parking in NYC is, you guessed it, a hassle. That is definitely a topic for another essay, perhaps a series. But between laundry and parking I find myself always desperate for quarters, hoarding them, saving them in a special pocket of my wallet separate from the other change. Rolls seem to disappear into thin air. And listen, obtaining a roll is no small feat. It involves loading the kids into the double stroller and heading out to a bank, waiting in line, sometimes two. Then inevitably the teller is put out at how many rolls I need and has to get the manager to come open a safe or vault or something so they can get more. Then one or both kids start fussing, needs a snack, dropped a toy, etc. Once I tried getting quarters at the customer service desk at the grocery store but it wasn't much easier, and it definitely took longer.
And don't even think for a second that it's an option to throw the kids in the car and just breeze through a bank drive-thru. This is NYC. Don't even think banks have parking lots, much less drive-thru's. No, any errands, from the post office to the library to the bank, are done on foot (or on public transportation but double strollers are not so welcome on buses.) See future article on parking. I just seem to always be in need of quarters, and never have enough to do laundry when I need to. One of the best gifts I received at the time of Ginger's birth was my Dad showing up with a huge pile of quarter rolls. Got me through a month without having to go to the bank.
So when our tax refund arrived I decided to finally get smart and take control of the quarter situation that plagues my life. I went to the bank and got $200 in quarters - that's 20 rolls. I was so happy and proud to have saved myself all the work and hassle of being constantly short on quarters. Now I could go months on that supply!
Then just last week there was a sign on the elevator door, informing tenants that the laundry room has installed a new "Smart Card" system - you use a refillable card, like a credit card, with the machines instead of quarters. No problem, I thought, I'll just put all my quarters in the machine that puts money on the Smart Card. But you guessed it, didn't you? I went down to check out the card machine and it only takes: bills.
So I'll be going back to the bank after all...