Four years ago, when I got my treadmill, the worker installing it said, "I see you got yourself an expensive hamper."
I rolled my eyes. This man doesn't know me! How dare he imply that my beautiful new treadmill will become nothing more than a convenient place to dump clothes? Just because my mom's treadmill is used as a hamper and my best friend's treadmill is used as a hamper doesn't mean mine will be! Besides, I have a perfectly good— Oh, wait. My old roommate's treadmill is also used as a hamper. But anyway, I have a perfectly good hamper right— Hold on. My next-door neighbor's is, too — both my neighbor now and my neighbor when I was a kid. It doesn't matter! "I have a perfectly good hamper right next to the treadmill," I told the installation worker.
He side-eyed me as I harrumphed my indignation. He didn't exactly say "we'll see," but we all know what he meant.
Less than a year later, my treadmill had become a very expensive hamper. My very inexpensive hamper stood next to the treadmill, empty.
A couple of years after that, I got on an exercise kick and decided to fire up the old treadmill. But it wouldn't start. I had a treadmill technician come to the house.
"How long has this been broken?" he asked. I couldn't say. He smiled at me.
"Been using it as a hamper, eh?"
Now that we're living full time in our RV, I no longer have the luxury of a treadmill hamper. The inexpensive hamper was once again promoted to, well, a hamper. Allow me a moment to discuss this inexpensive hamper. It's the greatest. I've had it since college. It's mesh, so it doesn't hold or create stink. It collapses down flat and tiny and has straps, perfect for carrying a load of laundry down four flights of stairs to the dorm laundromat. The hamper is everything I could ask for in a hamper. Yet even in college, the only time my hamper got any use was when I was doing the laundry. Otherwise, I'd pile up my clothes on my desk chair and do my homework on my bed, only moving the clothes from the chair to the hamper when it was time for a wash. Now, however, is the hamper's time. Space in the RV is even tighter than the space in my college dorm room. The laundromat's even farther away. Now my hamper should finally get the use it's deserved for the past 20 years.
The hamper is next to me as I write this column, standing erect and hungrily open as it always does — and practically empty. The bathtub, on the other hand, is overflowing with dirty clothes.
What is this aversion to hampers? It's not that we as a culture or I as an individual have a distaste for putting things into small buckets. I have no problem throwing my trash away or putting my recyclables into bins. I quite capably throw balls into baskets and pour milk and cereal into bowls. I just can't get myself to put clothes into a hamper. It's not just this hamper, either. I've tried the big plastic tub hampers, which, though never being used as a hamper, made an excellent place to dry my kids' art projects and a great tub for washing our pet rabbit. I've tried the sturdy, elegant wooden hampers, which became my desk on which to write from my bed (you know, because the desk chair was covered in clothes). I've even tried the basketball hoop hampers, but that just made me feel embarrassed about my lack of free-throw skills and concluded with undergarments scattered across the floor rather than piled neatly on, say, a treadmill.
Something has got to change with hampers. If they delivered compliments, released a puff of fabric freshener or lit up and dispensed tickets every time an article of clothing got into the basket as if I were playing Skee-Ball and I could trade a thousand tickets in somewhere for an eraser the size of my pinkie nail, that'd be something.
Maybe the treadmill folks should team up with the hamper industry on this one, because I'm not paying to get a new treadmill to be used as a hamper. A treadmill that would be used as a treadmill, however, might be worth it. Just think, there'd be new workout clothes for the actual hamper!
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Follow Katiedid Langrock on Instagram, at http://www.instagram.com/writeinthewild. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.