Thursday morning I woke up toan annoying 5 AMwakeup call by my alarm clock. Obviously, very few people are in a great mood when they wake up before the sun, but the reason for this early wakeup call was that I was going on my very first laundry service route. The previous day I had been told what I was going to do, and was excitedabout it, but at this early hour all that excitement hadquickly disappeared. After making the 45 minute drive to the facility I managed to shake off my fatigue and arrived at the factory on time. I was met by the GM of the facility who began giving me a tour. My eyes were no longer heavy as I stepped through the doors and saw a gigantic metal cylinder, which turned out to be the largest washing machine I have ever seen. As the tour continued I observed a multitude of workers aiding the machines in washing, drying, and folding the tremendous amount of laundry that goes through the plant each day.
At the completion of the tour I was introduced to my driving partner for the day, Julius. He came up, smiled, and told me to get in the truck. As we began the long drive down to West Miami he began teaching me about the laundry business as well as how long he had been running routes for the company. By the time we had reached our destination, some 2 hours later, our conversation had covered a wide range of topics and I learned about much more than just the laundry business. At our first stop I instantly noticed the smell, apparently laundry coming from a restaurant’s kitchen smells much worse than old laundry from my college dorm room. Once I moved past the smell I saw the steps that were taken to ensure that everything was delivered correctly and once it was we were on to our next stop. Each of the stops followed a similar process with us delivering the new laundry according to the customers order, making sure they had the proper amount of each item, and then picking up the dirty laundry on our way out. At about the 6th or 7th stop I was reminded of something, it gets very very hot in South Florida in the middle of July. Undeterred, Julius and I continued making stops and talking about the laundry business as well as other things. We continued this trend throughout the day, and around 3 PM we had completed our route. Julius assured methis was not the norm and mentioned that he has a route that goes to the Florida Keystoo, I must admit I was thankful I had been spared that assignment. We began our ride back to the factory and along the way continued to talk as the typical black rainclouds of a Florida storm rolled in.
By the time we arrived at the factory the storm had rolled in and it was pouring rain and lightning was flashing continuously. Julius told me that we needed to unload the dirty laundry but wisely decided that it would be better to wait than get struck by lightning. He told me I could head back home and that he would take care of unloading the laundry and filling out the final paperwork for the day. I thanked him for everything and sprinted through the rain to my car. Once in my car I realized many things from the day. First I thought about how great of a guy Julius really was and how much I had learned about both the laundry business and life in general. The second thing I realized was the complexity of the laundry business and how everything needs to run smoothly and efficiently for the company to be successful. As I was getting off the highway near my house I passed a restaurant and the nauseating smell of the first towels we picked up that day came to mind. I could only think of one thing; how happy I am that laundry service companies exist because the world would be a much smellier and unsanitary place without it.