Remember those college days, a couple decades or more ago, when we visited the coin-op laundromat each week or so? It's been a while. But I still visit a couple times a year to wash some large items like the king comforter. So it was this past weekend.
It's always an interesting experience thanks to the diversity in my small vacation fishing town. Obviously there are the people a little down on their luck, the tourists, the guys biking down the Pacific Coast Highway, the fishermen, and people like me who are trying to squeeze in a large item wash between a Starbucks run and a quick workout. It can be a bit grounding in reality. In the laundromat we're all equals, all waiting our turn for the right size machine, all dealing with the fact that we can't reserve a spot on a machine like a spin class.
So there I was, sitting and waiting on the cheap plastic chairs, admiring the fading fishes painted on the walls, and the lean guy in me couldn't help but notice some visual controls… or sometimes lack thereof. First, on the good side, were some of the newer machines. They actually had some decent visual work instructions.
Not too shabby. Even a cave man could figure that out. But then, on an older machine…
"2.50 – Two dollars fifty cents – Do not slam door – Five 5 quarters pushed in twice"
I realize that the typical clientele is fairly challenged, like engineering college students. But this could have been done just a bit better. How about "10 x" and a picture of a quarter with "25c" in it?
I had to use a fairly large machine for the comforter, as you see below.
It stands a bit over five feet tall. See that lid on the top? That's where you have to add soap/etc. into multiple cavities as noted by some embossed visual signage. You have to look DOWN to figure out which cavity, and it's already over 5 feet up. I'm not exactly short, and I had to stand on my toes.
Wouldn't an easy solution be to have a visual indicator on the front?
And finally, what's the best way to indicate that a machine isn't working?
Yellow tape holding the lid down and tape over the coin slot. Effective, simple. I was trying to figure out what was wrong with the system, and realized nothing was necessarily wrong.
Except that I remember the same machine being broken six months earlier. Still broken, or fixed and then broke again? Who know.