Monday, March 19, 2012

Airing Dirty Laundry: My Laundromat Focus Group

Mitt Romney was on TV, but no one was
watching him rail on teachers unions.
On Sunday morning, I was greeted with a dryer that just wouldn't dry my clothes.  That left me with two loads of wet laundry and nowhere to dry them.

For many people, the laundromat is a way of life.  They might live in a place with no washer/dryer hookup or with no laundry facilities.  Thus, they pile all their clothes into baskets and head to the laundromat.  It's something that I have not had to do since my days at Indiana University.  Thus, I am woefully unprepared for a trip to the laundromat.

So, I piled my two loads of laundry into a clothes hamper and took off at 9:15 a.m. on a Sunday morning for the laundromat.  On the way over, both my clothes and my change bucket spilled all over my car.  I can just imagine that when I pulled into the parking lot of the laundromat all of the customers there had to know I was an amateur.

I bypassed the washers and went straight to the dryer.  I piled my two loads into one heavy-duty dryer, inserted my money and sat down at a table that looked like it had not been cleaned in a while.  The carpet was stained, the neon light accents on the walls buzzed.  Needless to say, I was trying to just get my laundry done and get out of there, but I'm a people watcher.  I began to look around.

There was a man, probably in his late 60's, diligently folding his clothes.  A tall, man in probably his 30's was there in a mismatched shirt and pants.  It was probably his laundry day.  A mother, father and two children were there.  There was a woman with what seemed to be dyed red hair.  Another lady that was a little younger nervously smoked a cigarette just outside the door.  As my laundry tumbled, another middle-aged man walked in with a basket of clothes and began loading everything into two washing machines.  An elderly couple worked on folding a huge amount of clothes.  There was another guy with a "World's Greatest Dad" T-shirt and a cup of coffee in his hand transferring clothes from a washer to a dryer.

A few of the people seemed to know each other...as if this was their normal Sunday activity and perhaps ran into each other each week.  The vast majority of the people though, just sat and played with their phones.  Some read a book or a magazine, and some were working on the task at hand.

I, on the other hand, watched the people.  I was struck with what a diverse group I had run across on this Sunday morning.  I made a mental note to myself that I was going to write this blog post.

My laundry was done.  It was a little after 10:00 a.m.  On one TV, Meet the Press played.  Senator John McCain was on the screen.  On the TV near me, it was Fox News Sunday.  Mitt Romney was on, and he was talking education.  Suddenly, my mind faded from my surroundings to watch Romney.  I listened intently as I folded my clothes and put them in my hamper.

When I was through, I looked around.  The man in his 30's in the mismatched clothes and me were the only two people in the laundromat paying attention to the televisions.

Perhaps he was a political junkie or, in the absence of a remote, maybe he was only watching what was on television.  Nevertheless, I don't know what all this says about America.  What my little focus group at the laundromat did tell me was that people really are paying more attention to their day-to-day lives than the 2012 Presidential race right now.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tells me that only 13% will watch Fox News comapred to the 23% they claim. Still 13% is too much.

Indy Rob said...

2 out of 13 means 15.4% plus or minus 7.7%. Given measurement error, 23% might be a relatively accurate measure of the fox news audience.

I am not a fan of fox news, but then again I do not think that their overall coverage is that much more biased than the rest of the media.

This is coming from someone who likes having a news network on in the background.