Think & Write #20

The Laundromat

My washer broke down.  So now I’m here, at the laundromat.

My clothes are all organized.  I have my whites in one bag and colors in another.  I have a bag filled with quarters, so I’m ready to go.

My first load is already in, so I’m sitting here.  Bored.  Bored after a long, lonely night of working the night shift.

A mother comes in with her daughter.  She has a couple bags with her.  Those are probably her laundry.  She also carried her purse and another larger bag.  This was probably her diaper bag.

The daughter starts to cry and the mother comforts her.  The daughter begins to cry even more.  She refuses to be comforted.

In my frustration, I almost told that lady to quiet her daughter.  I have had a long night.  I don’t need to hear a crying baby.  I just want to get my clothes washed.

The first load is done.  I take that out and put it in the dryer.  I then put the next load in – the colors.

At this time, the mother was finally able to quiet the daughter.  She gives her a sucker.  I don’t know what flavor it was.  I’m guessing it was a cherry one.

To my misfortune, the mother and the daughter take a seat next to me.  The mother uses the nearby washer and then sits down.  The daughter is tired. She falls asleep and the sucker falls out of her mouth and onto the floor.  The mother quietly sighs and picks up the sucker, throwing it away in a nearby trash bin.  The daughter is still asleep.

A man comes in, carrying three garbage bags.  He places them on the floor and leaves.  He comes back in with three more garbage bags.  He leaves and comes back one more time, carrying three bags once again.  That’s nine bags of laundry altogether.

The daughter is still asleep.  She is in the chair next to me, quietly breathing in and out.

I smell an odor.  I look at the daughter and sigh in disgust.  Fortunately, the mother came back.  She had two empty garbage bags next to her and three full ones.  She sits next to her daughter and patiently waits.

The man dumps all his clothes into a washer, trying to stuff it with as many clothes as he can.  He tries to close the lid, but he can’t.

An old lady comes in, carrying just one garbage bag.  She finds an empty washer and pours all the clothes in.

I notice more people here.  A boy staring at the washer, mesmerized by all the colors.  A teenager looking bored, waiting for his clothes to wash.  Finally he gets out his phone and starts playing some game on it.

My focus returns to the odor, which has gotten stronger.  The daughter is still sleeping.  The mother is still waiting.

The man sighs, and gives up trying to stuff all his clothes in.  He removes a few pairs of pants, a handful of socks and a couple pairs of underwear and closes the washer.  Even then, it barely fit.

The old lady was sitting down, quietly working on what looked like a crossword puzzle.  I couldn’t tell from where I was sitting.

The second load was finally done.  What a relief.  I quietly got up from my chair and escaped the odor.  My whites were almost dry, but not quite.  Quietly sighing, I put my colors in another dryer.

I sit down and return to the odor, which at this time is unbearable.  I almost said something to the mother, but I bit my tongue and kept quiet.

Shortly after I sat down, the daughter woke up.  She stretched her little hands and yawned.  The mother saw that she was awake.  She placed the daughter on the floor and got her to her feet.  She then grabbed her by the hand, quickly guiding her into the bathroom.  Good riddance.

The man filled up a fourth washer with laundry.  Even then, he wasn’t done. He still had two garbage bags to go.

The old lady got up.  Her one load was done, so she took out the load and put it into the dryer.

I got up and checked my laundry.  My whites were done and my colors were halfway done.  I took the whites out of the dryer and put them back into the garbage bag.  I then took the bag with me and sat down.

The mother came back with the daughter.  The mother sat the daughter down in the chair and checked on her laundry.

The daughter looked at me and smiled.  I sniffed the air again.  The odor was almost gone.  I then looked at the daughter and managed a smile.

The daughter then asked me a lot of questions.  The first one had to do with what I was smelling.  With each answer I gave her, she kept asking why. She then asked who I was, and various other questions.

At about this time, the mother came back.  She looked at me and apologized, telling me that her daughter talks to everyone, including strangers.  With that, I nodded, telling her that it was okay.

The mother than tried to quiet the daughter. The daughter was getting antsy.

The old lady took her bag of clean clothes and left.

The man finally put the last of his laundry in, and was switching a few of his finished loads into dryers.

The daughter squirmed around on the chair and started to act fussy.  She wanted to leave the laundromat, but the mother told her that they couldn’t leave yet.  Almost losing her patience, she walks quickly away to check on her laundry.  All five of her garbage bags were empty.

The daughter was now in a crying fit.  I wasn’t going to deal with this.  I checked on my colors.  Ten more minutes.

I returned to the chair, with the mother returning at the same time.  The daughter’s temper tantrum continued.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I yelled at the mother, telling her to quiet her daughter.  The mother was almost in tears.  To make things worse, other customers were yelling at her.  The man with the nine bags of laundry was extremely angry.

The mother, totally red with embarrassment spanked her whining and screaming daughter and took her out of the laundromat.

I checked the colors again.  They were done.  I quickly filled my other bag and walked out, carrying two clean bags of laundry.

I could still hear the daughter, crying and screaming in the parking lot.  The mother tried calming the daughter, but she kept screaming louder.

I put my laundry in the car and drove off.

With all that went on at the laundromat, one thing is certain.  I need to get myself a new washer, and fast!

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

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