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Musings from the Laundromat: Threads and Tales edition

I’m here early.  And as usual, glaucoma man was here before me.  It was just he and I and the laundry lady.

First words out of his mouth: “Oh here you are!  I was just telling her about that Bruce Jenner.”

Oh boy I thought … because I already know where he stands on a lot of topics and they are – um – antiquated points of view.

Him: I don’t know why he had to go and do that, he had a perfectly good life!

Me: Well, he felt he is a woman.

Him: He’s going to have a hard time finding high heels – he has size 13 feet!  (Hearty laugh ensues)

Me: Well, I have size 10 feet.

Him: He doesn’t even LOOK like a woman!

Me: It happens, he needed to do this to be happy.  (I sustained from using ‘she’ considering who I was talking to – pronouns were the least of my conversational concerns.)

Then I used coffee as a reason to excuse myself.

Laundry lady: Doesn’t he drive you crazy?

Me: Nah … he’s lonely.

Laundry lady: He drives ME crazy, he tells the same stories over and over again.

Me: Well, I put myself in his shoes, and know I’d want someone to listen to my same stories if I was lonely.

Laundry lady: Yeah, but he shoves past me when I am trying to open.

Me: Well, that’s not good.  You open early to accommodate people.

Laundry lady: Sometimes, if it’s just him outside … I make him wait.

I tried not to laugh.  I mean, the laundromat opens at 8 and she will open at 7:30 sometimes.  She doesn’t have to do that.  So she’s well within her rights to keep that door closed until 8 O’Clock exactly.  But I  remembered all the customers that have given her grief that I’ve witnessed, and that’s only a tiny fraction of what goes on.

The way she said “I make him wait” in a confessional stage whisper just tickled me though.

The only power she had – she used.



Our chat was paused when a lady came up to the counter counting change and mentioning waiting for a Western Union from her daughter.  I’ve counted change more times than I care to remember, and while money is super tight right now,  I did still have a few dollar bills in my wallet.  I offered them to her.

Turned out she had enough.

I returned to my table.

Then Mr. Same Old Stories surprised me.

Him: Not a lot of men in here today, Fathers Day.  Looks like woman’s day.

(That didn’t make much sense to me, but I kept listening.)

Him: I’ve got to call my son later –

Me: Oh! Happy Father’s Day!

Him: Thanks.  He doesn’t call me.  Haven’t seen him in over six years.  His wife controls him. She’s ten years older than him.  He found himself a ‘mommy’.   His mom died when he was one.

Me: Oh!  I’m so sorry.

Him: That’s ok.  I was never really a good dad.  He doesn’t owe me anything.

And I sat there – and he walked off to fold his clothes.

And as I sat, I thought about the lives people have led.  The reasons behind their loneliness.  The need to retell the good stories.

The desire for companionship.  To have a familiar face show up and to look forward to that brief interaction.

Laundry lady confided in me too.  Turns out she lost her father seven years ago.  She flew out for the funeral, across country, only to find herself at a party disguised as a memorial – and not once was her father mentioned.

Me: Well, you made the effort.

Her: Yeah.

There was sadness in her eyes.  Regret.  And I wanted to hug her.

There are so many stories here.  SO many threads and colors and sizes.  Not just in the washing machines, but sitting beside me and in front of me.

So I’ll continue to listen.

And to muse.