Those of you who track my movements probably know that I've been in NYC on business for almost three weeks. I'm staying in corporate housing run by Marriott, in a two-bedroom apartment that has somewhat more personality than George Clooney's midwestern studio in Up in the Air.
There's one laundry room, on the ground floor. Even though I bought more clothing than I needed, I've had to do laundry twice in three weeks.
So, to do laundry here, you have to purchase a little debit card. You put a $10 bill - no more, no less, no other way to pay - into a machine and it gives you a card with $5 on it. That's right. You pay $5 for the card. If you need more money than that to do laundry - and trust me, you do - you reinsert the card, then put a $5, $10, or $20 bill into the same machine. OR, you can put the card into the adjacent machine and add laundry money to it using your debit or credit card. But you can't buy the card and the initial deposit using a debit or credit card, because the machine that takes plastic doesn't dispense cards. It only adds money to them.
That's right. It's 2010, and the designers of these machines couldn't figure out a way to combine their functions. Or to allow people to use coinage in them. Or to give change back from a $20 bill.