This was the last place I wanted to be.
- Posted on Jan 18, 2018
Sunday night at the laundromat. It was a huge inconvenience, especially with Christmas just a few weeks away. But my dryer was on the blink. I’d washed my clothes at home, and then transported them in plastic bags to finish the job here.
As I loaded the dryers—one for towels, a second for jeans and another for delicates—I caught sight of one of the machines below the three I was using. Spinning around together to the backdrop of the evening news were tube socks and a child’s party dress.
They don’t belong in the same dryer and I certainly don’t belong here, I thought.
"Thank You all. Every book, magazine, and letter means a lot to us when we are away from home. It gives us hope, confidence, happiness, strength and pride that someone is there for us." - Former Navy Sailor, Part of Operation Gratitude
After I sacrificed my quarters to the hulking machines, I headed over to the magazine stand for a distraction. Nearby a young man and woman shook out linens as they removed them from the dryer. Their baby napped in her pink stroller while they worked. The couple stretched a king-size flat sheet between them and moved toward one another. As their hands met to make the first fold, I heard myself say, “There’s something so romantic about a couple folding clothes together.”
I hadn’t meant to talk out loud. I didn’t even know these people. What must have run through their heads? The woman gave a shy smile, and her husband chuckled sort of nervously. They finished their folding and left.
I’ll never see them again, I decided. And thank goodness! Who wanted to hear random comments from a busybody?
My old dryer turned out to be more than on the blink. It was dead. I needed a new one, but I wanted to do some research before purchasing. Consequently I found myself back at the laundromat the following Sunday night—along with the same couple from the week before!
I put my head down to count out dryer sheets and hoped I wouldn’t be noticed. I felt a tap on my shoulder. Oh, no... It was the young wife.
“I’m sure you don’t remember me,” she said, “but I have to tell you something.” I supposed she had finally gotten up the courage to tell me to mind my own business.
“Last week, your comment about my husband and me really made me think. You see, we had been quarrelling.” Now I felt totally embarrassed. Why couldn’t I have kept my big mouth shut? This couple didn’t need to hear pleasantries from a perfect stranger.
“I saw a pair of Miss Me jeans at the mall and asked for them for Christmas,” the young woman said. “But Bernie said there was no way we could afford them. With the baby and all. So I got mad and told him he wasn’t romantic. We were barely speaking.”
“I’m so sorry I butted in. I don’t know what came over me.” I wanted the floor to open up so I could disappear. Disappear from someplace I had no desire to be from the start. But for my dumb dryer.
The woman motioned her husband over. He took her hand as she continued. “Bernie works as a welder,” she said. “He’s always pulling double shifts to support us. He’s such a good man—way better than a cute pair of Miss Me jeans—but I’d forgotten all that. We’ll have a loving Christmas now, thanks to you.”
I clapped my hands in glee. So that’s why angels had put me in the laundromat for the holidays! Now they just had to help me pick out a new dryer.
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