Back in November of 2015 I escaped the North East cold for Caroline Beach. I didn’t expect it to be hot and humid. Jones felt slimy from the coastal weather and I swear life was starting to grow throughout her! Once the heat broke I headed to a local laundromat to wash the newly formed ecosystem of swamp-ness from my bedding.
I shoved the blue Big Agnes fluffy storm king sleeping bag, along with all my other blankets, into one giant commercial washing machine. When it came time to switch the load, I pulled out the blankets to find that half were still dry. What!!!! After months of laundry machines ripping me off, I was fed up. Also, laundromats have no one around to help!!! How are you suppose to get your money back??? This time things were different. At long last someone was around. So I spoke up, I spoke up load and I spoke up clear! I was full of feistiness, ready for someone to FINALLY hear my rants!
Aggressively walking across the room, I approached the older woman who stood on the opposite side of the front counter. She was in her 70's, wore a strong accent of gold bling and came up to maybe my waist, maybe. No matter her size I had it made up in my mind that this woman was going to pay! Pay for the months of crap machines that had stolen all my valuable quarters leaving me empty handed. Waiting impatiently for her attention, I stood anxiously ready to confront this woman. Fuming with rage I found comfort in stroking the few remaining quarters in my pocket uttering to myself ‘my precious.’
Snapping to, I asked, or rather shouted in my most gruff tone "Is it usual for items to come out of the machines dry? Or was that just something special for me." As I stood strong waiting for her response I was met with am unanticipated look. It was as if I just punched her first born in the face. ‘Oh crap’, I thought to myself as I slightly shifted my weight back lowing my stance.
“Don’t come in here and tell me my machines don’t work. They do. It’s your fault if they don’t work. What did you do? What did you do to my machines?? You all come in here and when you mess things up you all blame it on my machines. I’m not giving you your money back. It was your fault. Not my machines!” she yelled causing me to step back. Despite her size, she could hold her own. Maybe I should have just shut my mouth. I didn’t want to fight......or did I! I was now pissed off and made it my mission to get my precious....err...my money back.
“I didn’t say your machine wasn’t working but it obviously isn't if my blankets are still dry coming out of the washer.” I barked back childishly. I can take you lady, come on. What ya got!
Sweat Suit Super Hero Son
Just then her son, a man in his 50’s dressed in a sweat suit jumped from behind the counter with a bag of quarters like a super hero ready to save the day.
“Ma, it’s okay. Ma, I got this. Ma, get back. I’m sorry Miss, I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Let me put quarters in another machine and get your laundry going.” Moving with proficiency you could tell he had done this many times before.
“Look, she’s got way too much stuff in there. No wonder. I have great machines. I take the best care of them. Don’t come in here and tell me there's a problem with my machines just because you don’t know how to use them.” After a fierce glance from her son, Ma’s tone changed just a tiny bit, sounding a little less pit bull and a bit more german shepherd.
Once sweat-suit-super-hero-son and I divided my excessive load into two piles, he dropped quarters in the machines then went back behind the counter but not before giving his Ma another evil eye look as he walked past her.
To ignore Ma’s impaling glaze I began to flip through a magazine. She just stood in the same spot sizing me up while shooting angry right at me. Yelling a bit more about being right, which added fuel to the fire. This fire was about to go wild!!!! I'm gonna let this woman have it! I didn’t care if she's an old lady and half my size I'm gonna throw DOWN!!
Valley of Green
With fiery force, I walked over and looked her straight in her evil eyes. As I peered into what I thought would be two dark holes filled with an empty bottomless pit of a soul was actually a warm valley of green, revealing a sincere human being standing in front of me. I was taken off guard. Crap! I said to myself as my anger subsided.
Gaining my composure I let out a long, surrendering sign then asked, “Will you look to see if we loaded your machines correctly? You seem to know more about this than I do and I’d appreciate your help.” I choked a bit as I spoke these words, which caused Ma to go from German Shepherd to Grandma mode. I swore I saw a quick stop by utter shock with a jaw drop but I can’t be certain.
Beaming, Ma began to show off her skills. “When you do the washing people always think to get things clean you put more detergent in, that’s wrong! To get things clean you use ammonia, not bleach you never use beach it will eventually eat your clothes so will dryer sheets. Never Never use dryer sheets! Use just a hint of fabric softener. Remember, use a little soap, ammonia and rinse until all the suds come out, that’s the trick to really clean clothes. And remember, never bleach or dryer sheets, only a bit softener if you want things soft.”
As Ma lovingly gave me the life lessons on laundry (which I have to say were really helpful) I stood watching her, taking it all in. I had fought to fisticuffs with this old viper of a woman and with just a slight of hand I was now becoming friends with her. Maybe, sometimes, people just want to be heard. A few hours later I gathered my newly washed and dried items. I said my thanks to Ma and sweat-suit-super-hero-son and as I walked out the door I heard my new friend yell out "Come back anytime, My Precious."
Heart Shaped World