I remember late August 2021 like it was yesterday — hot summer air, the squeak of the floors in my new apartment unit and an overwhelming worry about how I was going to do my laundry.
When I moved off campus, laundry was the last thing on my mind. But, as the first few days passed and my laundry basket filled with worn clothes, the realization I didn’t have a single quarter in my possession began to consume me. I was haunted by the image of empty quarter slots atop my building’s coin laundry machines.
I called grocery stores and banks and searched through my room for loose change. I was persistent but no match for the national coin shortage. Feeling defeated, I decided to take to Twitter to express my troubles.
One night, the answer hit me. The Regis Hall vending machines were the solution to all my problems.
Despite having never made a purchase from the vending machines in Regis when I lived there, I was familiar with their location and, more importantly, the machines’ coin return function.
My plan was drafted. I would trek from my apartment to the dorm building and make my way to the secluded vending machines near the lobby, where I would propose a trade to the vending machine: my $1 bills for its stash of quarters.
I slipped through the front door of Regis, avoiding eye contact with everyone nearby and dreading someone would dare to ask about my intentions. I rounded the corner to find exactly what I was looking for.
My hands trembled while unfolding the stack of cash I’d acquired for this exchange. I peered over my shoulder uncontrollably, hoping my glance would never be met with someone else’s. While listening carefully for footsteps, I shakily inserted a $1 bill into one of the available three machines, pressed the coin return button and waited for what felt like an eternity.
My ears have never been graced by a more beautiful melody than those four quarters falling into the bottom right corner of a snack-filled dispenser.
Overjoyed by the success of my plan, I repeated this method using all my $1 bills. My nervousness was quickly replaced by adrenaline and excitement. Laundry was no longer a chore but an honor.
The anxiety surrounding my quarter collection method has yet to entirely subside. With every trip to Regis Hall, I am filled with nerves and anticipation that a passerby may interrupt my scheme. The dorm building’s machines have rarely failed me, aside from the occasional release of ten dimes rather than the ideal four quarters.
I knew moving off campus was going to rid me of some of the most wonderful aspects of dorm life. I would miss the immediate access to campus, the close proximity to what “Pizza Boy” claims to be the greatest pizza in the entire world and the ability to meet new friends who lived down the hall.
What I didn’t realize I would miss the most was the convenience of the laundry payment system attached to the wall of the — retrospectively — glorious dorm laundry rooms. A simple swipe of my student ID in exchange for a load of clean clothes was an amenity I took for granted.
Sundays are many things: rest days, study days, Phoenix meeting days, game days. For me, they’re also laundry days. While some spend their Sundays worrying about football quarterbacks, I have spent many of mine worrying about how to get quarters back — but not anymore.
While I never imagined myself admitting to being reliant on the Regis Hall vending machines, they have become a constant in an ever-changing world.