Lint is on the loose in Gilroy.
Fluffy blue tufts of cotton candy-like lint balls are bespeckling driveways, collecting in corners of carports and amassing along sidewalk gutters at the Wagon Wheel Mobile Village at 8282 Murray Ave.
Situated downwind of an industrial-size laundry company, the quaint senior community is on the receiving end of a pesky byproduct generated by the Angelica Corporation. Located across the street on Murray Avenue, the company employs about 200 people and specializes in linen management services for healthcare facilities.
For the past two months, powder blue lint balls have wafted across the street to the gated mobile home village, which ends up corralling a majority of the fuzzy waste.
“It’s all over everywhere. It’s been awful,” observed Mary Ann Harp, 75, stooping to pick up a handful of fluff coagulating in the corner of her front deck. “Everybody is talking about it … it’s a pain in the butt.”
Extracting the lint by sweeping or vacuuming is “almost impossible,” she said. “You have to pull it out.”
The property manager named Roger, who declined to give his last name, recently had to clean lint from the Wagon Wheel’s clogged pool filters. He’s already brought the issue to the attention of Angelica’s staff.
“We’re working on it,” he said. “Their filters are blown out. I’m sure that’s what’s going on.”
For the sake of keeping things civil and neighborly, Roger said he wants to give Angelica a little more time before calling up the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health. He’d rather resolve the lint dilemma “in house” before getting the county involved.
“I’d like to give (Angelica) the opportunity to do it on their own,” he maintained. “I’m their neighbor … I just wanna get it dealt with.”
The problem, which stems from the company’s five “huge” lint filters, should be resolved very soon, according to a senior engineer at Angelica named Bill who would not give his last name.
“It was a machine malfunction,” he explained. “It’s something you don’t know about until (the lint) starts building up, and then you go, ‘what the heck is going on?’”
A technician was scheduled to come in last week but couldn’t make it, Bill said. It’s currently being worked on, however.
“I don’t like it either,” said Bill. “I want to be a good neighbor.”
Like Roger, the Wagon Wheel’s residents aren’t getting overly heated about the issue. They’re just a little perplexed, and tired of plucking bits-o-cotton from their driveways, welcome mats and small lawns.
“I don’t want to ruin their business, but by the same token, you got old people living here,” chuckled Harp.
She says the excess lint that kicks up on windier days doesn’t help with her breathing issues.
Several homes down the way, resident Mary Avila pointed to a line of cotton dotting the side of her driveway like a blue ant trail. It didn’t take her long to suspect its origin.
“I thought maybe their vents are broken,” she speculated, nodding toward Angelica. “You have to get down and pick on it … it’s all over.”
The fluffy stuff doesn’t necessarily stand out to the naked eye unless you’re looking for it. Once one is conscious of it, however, it’s not difficult to spot.
Lint has settled into potted plants, bushes, outdoor rugs and along the streets inside the mobile home village. The stuff gets netted with dead leaves, gravel, twigs, grass and fallen flower petals, creating a gritty, cottony salad that amasses in various crannies throughout the park.
Roger tries to pick up the “big globs” when he spots them, “but if I was to try to clean up all the stuff, I could spend eight hours a day picking up cotton,” he laughed.
Pausing to chat while plucking tomatoes from the Wagon Wheel’s community garden Monday afternoon, 88-year-old resident Albert Gagliardi said he recently vacuumed, swept and picked lint out of his carpet-lined carport.
“I noticed it about a week ago,” recalled the former Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Deputy of 31 years. “I was wondering, what in the heck?”
Gagliardi said he noticed a “big piece” of lint stuck in the grass while strolling across the lawn in front of the Wagon Wheel’s main administrative office Tuesday morning.
“I picked it up and there was even a little piece of hair on it, and I thought, ‘egads!’” he said.
After placing a call Tuesday to report the problem to the City of Gilroy, Gagliardi joked good-humoredly that the person on the other end of the line seemed as interested in the issue “as I would be about black widows.”
When his wife, Betty, first noticed the lint “flying” through the air a week or so ago, “I thought it was snow,” she giggled.
This isn’t the first time the Wagon Wheel has dealt with runaway lint.
With Angelica being the third laundry company to take up residence over the years at 8190 Murray Ave., according to Roger, the cottony byproduct has made its way across the street on more than one occasion – “but not as much as this,” he said.
The senior engineer at Angelica also acknowledged this during a phone conversation Wednesday.
Given the “amount of laundry that we do here… this is not a new thing, from what I understand,” he said.
Gagliardi agreed it was about time for the linen services company to iron out the operational wrinkle.
“Gee whiz, they should do this right,” he mused.