Jo customized her Wash Cycle Laundry T-shirt into a cutoff tank top. Her dirty blonde hair was put in a high bun on top of her head. As I wandered around the facilities taking pictures, she easily picked up two of the clean laundry bags filled with towels and loaded on her trailer. I offered to help, but she said, “I got this.” When I asked her if I could take a headshot of her, Jo said yes, but she needed to dry herself up a little bit first, then did I notice that sweat had been dripping along her forehead and her hair was half soaked by sweat. Delivering laundry on bikes in the city is no easy job especialy in wet hot Philadelphia summer! She quickly adjusted her bun in front of the mirror by the entrance. “How do I look?” she asked. “Perfect! You look just like a dedicated cyclist!” I said. She stood by her fully loaded trailer, looking pretty relaxed, and yet ready to go. After I took her picture, Jo took off and ventured into the city. About forty-five minutes later, Jo came back with trailer full of dirty laundry as it started pouring outside. After unloading the dirty laundry, she took out couple towels to dry out her trailer, getting ready to load clean laundry. I suggested her to wait till the rain dies down a little bit, and she responded, “It wouldn’t really make a difference even if I wait, also I need to deliver on time,” with determination, Jo finished loading, as I watched in awe. A week later, Jo came into the office and we had a little chat. She told me that after she graduated from Bryn Mawr College, she decided to not to move back to Wisconsin because she likes Philadelphia. She found housing here, left most of her belongings in her new home, flew to Wisconsin and biked from Wisconsin to Philadelphia. “I like my job at Wash Cycle Laundry as a cyclist, because it reminds me of the journey. I learned from the trip that I really like being on a bike. I also really enjoy feeling adventurous and also the loneliness biking around different parts of the city, but also being able to stop and go home at the end of the day.”
Jo gives out a vibe of a tenacious woman, not in the aggressive, confrontational way; she seems calm and determined, tackling life at her own pace. “My name is Jo,” She introduced herself as she dropped off a bag of dirty laundry near the entrance of the facility on South Street.
Yue Xiang is a rising junior at Haverford College, a liberal arts college located in suburban Philadelphia. She currently works as a Marketing Intern at Wash Cycle Laundry this summer, where she has been going on "field-trips" to laundry facilites to learn about the staff members and our operational process. She will be writing more about what she learns and people at Wash Cycle Laundry.