It’s a real laundry mat! Oh, there is a god! The sign is almost hidden from the construction happening beside it. I had a shitty experience at a very old laundry mat down the road, so this is a great day. A very great day. I’m noticing how chipper I am as I shove my dirty clothes into a well-run, brand new-ish machine. Yes, oh, yes! The long, narrow store is full of new machines! I feel like I’m in heaven; I am quietly thankful and trying to control my beaming eyes. And then I can’t seem to get the detergent to work properly, so I ask the nice guy working to help. And he is actually nice. He helps me with such a kindness. It’s a rarity in New York, someone who actually likes their job. Wow.
“No, we’ve been here for the past 2 years.” I asked him if his store was new. “We actually own 2 other stores as well: 121st & Broadway and another on 79th.” Jose is in his late 30s but looks a lot younger. He carries a little belly and wears casual cream-colored clothes but the most striking thing about him is the kindness he exudes. His eyes are naturally warm and his heart open. “Believe it or not, we’re the first in the city to introduce the 24-hour laundry mat.” He looks at me to see if I believe him. I gotta tell ya, I actually do. “That’s great, Jose!” He chuckles, “Yeah, you can Google us and I’m sure some articles will come up. I’ve found at least one…” He trails off as he catches a lady down the way needing some help with the coin slot of another very clean machine. “Excuse me,” he says to me and is on the dart to save the day for someone else.
“How busy does it get at 4am?” I ask him when he returns. “Uh, not at all. But what the 24-hour idea does is bring in repeat business. A customer will connect the 24-hour idea with their need for clean clothes more readily, and then, say, a store with normal business hours. I didn’t know that myself, but it’s been proven. The power of association.”
Jose has a son who he raises alone. “He’s like my third arm, that kid,” he says this with that signature kindness in his eyes and smile. I imagine Jose throwing his son over his shoulder as he schleps back and forth between locations. “Yup, it’s about notoriously being in their life. Excuse me,” Jose says to me as he jumps behind the counter to get change for a student.I see that he does that in most areas of his life.
I see that he does that in most areas of his life.