Thursday, March 27, 2008

heavy-laden laundry

I wore a long dark brown parka. Cloaked with attitude. As I stood there staring at the last dryer being taken while my four washers of clothes remained put, I questioned why I felt the way I did. Why the thought of someone unknowingly taking the dryer that I mentally picked as mine made me want to bang my head against the wall. How did I get to this place in my mind? Why was I in such a rush? It was more than my wasted time. It was more than my being selfish by calling all dryers my own at a public laundry mat. It was, in fact, the worst laundry day ever.

The dryers hummed in rotation while my mind turned to the past week in reflection. Brianna was still recovering from a UTI that hindered her ability to stay dry at night. Kai started throwing up on Easter Eve. I followed his lead on Monday and Brianna decided to join us around 2am that same night. The children recovered quicker than I did and I was left to feel unaccomplished, unproductive, and uneasy about whether or not I Lysol-ed the house enough. You would think that as a sick mother I would have more to think about than the laundry that was accumulating. But no. Not in my house.

You see, our apartment does not have washer and dryer hookups, therefore we have no washer and dryer. For the past 2 1/2 years I have spent every week at the laundry mat washing four loads in the extra large capacity washers. On sick weeks, you can double that amount to include blankets, pillows, and unmentionable yet hopefully washable things. I made the mistake of calculating the cost one day. In the past 2 years, we have spent $2500 at the laundry mat. If I did my calculations correctly, that just about buys me a fabulous burnt orange GE energy saver front load washer and dryer set at Lowe's that includes the detergent drawer at the bottom. The nausea continues.

Laundry days used to be fun to some degree. My husband made an extra effort to make it a family affair and Brianna began to call it the time when we went exploring. We would run errands as the clothes washed or dried and usually made quite a night out of it! Slowly, as the months progressed however, it became less of an adventure and more of an ordeal. Now, "I" load the bags up. "I" carry them to the car. "I" unload them, wash them, transfer them, dry them, load them back up, bring them inside the house, fold them, hang them up and put them away. It would be indecent of me to say that my husband never carries some of my burden. In fact, two weeks ago he hung up his own clothes. I am a blessed woman.

The rustling of a plastic laundry bag brought in by another woman halted my thoughts. I immediately thought how laundry baskets just don't do it for us regulars. We use the toughest and largest bags to haul our laundry around. I personally buy contractor bags for my weekly laundry spree. By the time the bag is fully loaded, only bricks can do the description of what I lift justice. Combine my four bags of bricks and the truth of what I was carrying in them this week (sickness) and you can understand my hesitation to even begin the laundry day. As the dryers continued to tumble without any of my washed clothes in them, my thoughts began to drift again to only a few moments earlier.

I decided to leave home at a time when the laundry mat was rarely busy to ensure that I get all my washers and dryers at once. I was surprised to see that it looked full regardless of my timing, but "aha!" there was one parking space open near the door. I began to pull forward with my turn signal on motioning that I was going to back in. Suddenly a little white Toyota Corolla pulled in right behind me and left me to park far away elsewhere. How rude can you get? Not a good start to my day.

I began my walk back and forth to my car, carrying and/or dragging one bag at a time. I passed the white car each time and the male driver just sat there reading his paper while waiting for his girlfriend to finish her laundry. I finally finished loading the washers when I realized that his girlfriend hadn't even put her clothes in the dryer, so he was just sitting there. Not unloading. Not reloading. Just sitting. I lost it. I marched right out to his car and tapped on his window.

"Excuse me," I said, "do you speak English?" (this was not rude... I really needed to know if he could understand me)
"uhmm..ya." he said with a thick Spanish accent.
"I want you to know that pulling into this space when I was trying to back in was extremely rude."
He laughed. (Oh no he didn't!)
"What are you talking about?" he said, "I have been here for over 20 minutes."
"I know! I was trying to back in with my turn signal on and you pulled in instead."
"no comprendo."
"Do you realize that I needed this space because I am carrying four huge bags in and out of here because my kids and I have been sick all week and do you have any idea how heavy they are and what kind of man are you to make your girlfriend do all your dirty laundry as you just sit here and not only are you just sitting here but you are sitting here in a spot that belonged to a very tired mother who had her blasted turn signal on!!!"

Suddenly a man yelled at me to ask if I had a quarter. I snapped my head around while holding my hand up to the Corolla man and said, "do you actually think that standing outside a laundry mat where people use quarters as GOLD is the best place to ask people for money?" Both men looked stunned.
"Oh, forget it," I said and I walked away.

My heart-pounding mental recap of events halted to a stop as two dryers began to open. Immediately I wheeled a cart over to one of my washers and began to unload. I was in a race to win this time. I needed four dryers, so one opening every twenty minutes just wasn't cutting it. I got one dryer filled but as I quickly raced back for another I was beaten by an old man. He looked really nice and yet, I wanted to hit him with his cane.

Finally, after making multiple attempts to get "a" dryer for my other three loads of laundry, I made the decision to apologize to the Corolla man, the quarter man, and the old man with a cane. After my final "I am sorry for my rudeness" (the old man seemed a bit confused by my confession), the heavens cleared and six dryers opened up at once. I somehow managed to finish all the laundry AND pick up Brianna on time from school despite this being the worst laundry day ever. Perhaps, I should put away my heavy parka and start wearing a light raincoat to the laundry mat instead.

10 comments:

Just the Three of Us said...

Fun reading...not because the story was bad for you...but because you really know how to write! Also...go Carrie for speaking up and chewing somebody out. I have never had the guts to do it, at least not to their faces. Although this was aweful for you it sure made some great reading this morning.

Hillybug said...

i am now reliving being 9 months pregnant in arizona in 115 degree heat and chewing out the manager in Wal-mart for not taking my check after I had written at least 50 checks there in the past! As I turned to leave I yelled loudly to the awesome group of black girls that "had my back" behind me in line that if they needed to find me I would be at TARGET! I love your being able to process through your frustration by writing, you are truly a woman after my own heart!

Sarah said...

This was wonderful Carrie - thanks for turning your awful day into great reading :)

theamazingjohnsons said...

Carrie, you are such a wonderful writer. I am so sorry you had such a bad laundry day. I am proud of you for saying something to that guy. Doesn't he know what it means when some one has their signal on? That's just rude!

Kristie and Ryan said...

Beautiful. I really felt your pain and at the same time an increased love for my mismatched, dented, but fully functioning in-home washer and dryer. I will try to remember that doing laundry in the garage is not so bad. :)

Also, I personally think you had nothing to apologize for, but I guess since the dryers opened up immediately following, I must be wrong. So, good job.

Cortney said...

You know, you are perhaps the only woman I know who could walk up and knock on that man's window like that. I'm taking notes for the day that I have to stand up for myself and can't find the nerve to say what really needs to be said. :)

Cortney said...

You know, you are perhaps the only woman I know who could walk up and knock on that man's window like that. I'm taking notes for the day that I have to stand up for myself and can't find the nerve to say what really needs to be said. :)

Bethanne said...

Okay, I have to say that I think you are fabulous! Thank goodness for blogs so that I can get to know you (in addition to your husband!). I'm SO sorry for the sickness, feelings of being overwhelmed and such a crappy day doing laundry. But it sure made for a great story?! :) And I thought you knocking on that guy's window was awesome!!! I mean, shame on you...learn to control your anger. hahahahahaha. You are a phenomenal writer; you should publish something through lulu.com or blurb.com and then I'll buy it! :)

Angie said...

Hi Carrie! It is so much fun reading other people's blogs. I laughed so hard when I read this story!

Mary Seals said...

What's a parka? Oh, right, that's one of those things you wear when you're cold.
Gosh, if only I had a couple bucks for every time I chewed out an asian who was violating what I consider to be fundamental laws of respect and courtesy....

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