Triple Digit Temps


On days this hot, I sometimes reflect on my mom's experiences working in a laundry.


One of the plants she worked in was a giant, industrial facility that specialized in uniforms. All summer long, my mom and the other women (at least at the time, this was still very much ‘women’s work’) baked in a giant brick edifice that contained dozens of megamachines. The washers and dryers were vastly oversized and designed to rid work clothes of their odors, stains and wrinkles. 


If you’ve ever spent time in a crowded Laundromat or even a self-contained home laundry room, you have some beginning sense of the temperatures laundry machines can generate on a small scale. Now magnify that output while considering the scale of dozens of these megamachines running 10 hours straight. In the summer, in an all brick building, with no external ventilation. 6 days a week.


These women worked for just above minimum wage and many of them suffered fainting spells (and worse) from heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke. And unless one of her children fell ill, my mom made her way to this plant every day for years.


Eventually, she received a (long overdue) promotion and moved to a different physical facility.  She made a point of insisting that one of the other employees become her assistant, so someone else could leave that plant too.  I’m continually grateful that Mom endured so much to help my dad provide for my sisters and me.


And I promise not to whine about the heat today.




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