Many people are confused by, or triggered by, what it means to be privileged. Check your privilege they say. Just to push that social experience of not talking for a week, I decided to experience the laundromat. Of course I have been to laundromats; I mean, I went to college. I have returned periodically for extra large items. The last time I was at this laundromat though was to wash my 130lb dog since they also have room for that and he qualified as extra large.
Back to today’s privilege check- as I was reacquainting myself with the process, I learned there was no ATM, the changed machine only likes 5s and 10s, not ones or 20s, and one has to bring their own detergent. Go figure. To top off the joy level, the laundromat lost power with 5 minutes remaining in my cycle.
Naturally the quality of this adventure was due to my level of familiarity, or more precisely, the lack of. But in a manner that has no relationship to social justice, what I experienced today was my privilege. My husband and I have carved a life that affords a pretty washer and dryer. It also affords me time to sit, write and wait for the power to return.
My take away- privilege can be found in places we aren’t use to hearing about. Sometimes privilege is its own reward. Sometimes it’s the reward for planning, for managing circumstances, which result in rarely needing to spend hours in the laundromat.
Sometimes privilege is something you benefitted from but did absolutely nothing to achieve it- you merely stumbled into it through the birth canal. You have this cash flow because you were born a trust fund baby, you were born into a family that can travel while saving for your college, or being of a race that never worried about mortgage red-lining, or white supremacy.
I think it’s ok to pat yourself on the back when you experience privilege because of your own fortitude. However, it may be even more important to discern when you merely stumbled into it by a birthright. Whichever privilege you experience, recognize others may not have that privilege and check your judgement after checking your privilege.
Epilogue- when I subsequently needed change for drying and the machine was ’temporarily out of order’….I knew I could go down the rabbit hole of ’time is money’ and will consider a dry cleaners, but that’s another day.