Mm, it’s delicious to be back.

By now, you’ve taken the time to reacquaint yourself with your abode, to appreciate the absence of your parents’ endless questions about when you’re waking up or eating lunch or why you’re not studying, and the conclusion of the series of random messages from old flames that say, “Hey! It’s been a while! How’s college? Let’s catch up!”

Or, if you’re like me, you realize that your room is just as messy as you left it, and as you happen upon your hamper filled with the clothes you could have lugged home to be washed, you realize that there is one thing that sucks about college: Yo’ momma ain’t around to do yo’ laundry no mo’. In that light, let us saunter over to the laundry room for today’s adventure.

The scene: You’ve walked in to the laundry room, clothes and detergent in hand, ready to assert your adulthood. You survey the machines; none sport the inviting “Price 1.25.” There is, however, one clad in a questionable “0 minutes.” It’s calling out to you. You open the door of the machine, and then close it. There are someone else’s wet clothes inside. But the cycle has ended. And you need the machine. And there’s no one else around …

This is when you encounter the ever paramount question: To take them out, or not to take them out?

Last year, in the basement of Farnam entryway B, I found myself at a similar crossroads. I needed to transfer my clothes from a washer to a dryer, but there were no empty dryers. There was, however, a dryer that had completed its cycle. But someone’s clothes were still inside. Naive and optimistic, I figured that like pirate jokes and most other situations in life, the “How?” is as equally as important as the “What?.” I carefully removed the clothes from the dryer but figured that if I folded them it would make up for the fact that I partially invaded someone’s privacy by touching the clothes in the first place.

After folding, I set the pile of crisp, warm clothes on the counter, and sat on a machine a few yards away, curious to see the owner’s reaction. Soon, he arrived, looked at the dryer that his clothes were previously in, and noticed that a new cycle had begun. He looked around, and upon seeing the carefully sorted piled on the counter, did not react at all. He simply shoved the clothes into his laundry bag — unfolding them in the process.


There was love embedded in each and every crease of those Gap khakis and salmon striped shirts. All was rejected, without so much as a whimsical smirk as if to say, “How extraordinary! My soul is quietly tickled.”

So it was unnecessary to fold the clothes. I get that now. But taking them out wasn’t wrong at all.

Let’s be straight about the way things roll in the laundry room. When faced with the question of whether or not to relocate Stranger X’s articles, I say go for it. But there are boundaries.

1. Don’t put the clothes on the floor when you take them out. This shouldn’t require an explanation. There are plenty of other places to put the clothes. The floor? That’s just lazy or malicious. If you accidentally drop some of the person’s clothes on the floor, get the dirt off it! Don’t be whack.

2. When taking someone else’s laundry out of the machine, make sure you get all of it. Most times, the reason why one of your argyle socks disappears or you acquired a lovely new bra is because you or the person before you neglected to empty the machine.

3. The person can’t see you moving their laundry, so make the magic happen quickly. There’s a strange necessity for anonymity in laundry touching; kind of like how people try really hard not to touch each other on the subway. One savvy student I know even puts clothes he takes out on the next washer over, as to further decrease the chances of discovery.

4. If you’re a guy, you can’t take girls’ stuff out of the machines. It kind of sucks for you, but Yale is 50.75 percent male, right? If there’s a girl in the laundry room with you, perhaps try to recruit them to take the clothes out for you.

A few weeks after my unfortunate and misguided attempt, I saw a note on top of one of the machines in the laundry room. It read: “To the person who took my clothes out of the dryer and folded them last week, thanks. I really appreciate it. It was just like how my mom does it.” He even signed his name.

It tickled my soul. At least somebody saw the love and decided to pay it forward. That, or there’s somebody out there as nutty as I am. Either option is comforting.

Kristen Ng is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College. Her column runs on alternate Mondays.