But you sure as Hell don’t want to be without it.
Yesterday at 6:30 am, the washing machine blew at the beginning of the wash cycle. Hubby and I fished clothes from a tubful of water, and I prepared myself for the unenviable task of marching to the laundromat down the street. For the past months, homeless people used the laundromat as a drop-in shelter, and no sign of “no loitering/facility for customer use only” dissuaded them from pitching camp. Immediately, I recalled how one drunk, homeless fuck began harassing my autistic son who amused himself with a stick in our front yard. The drunk ignored my shouting from the upper deck, and would not leave until my husband lay on the verge of kicking his intoxicated ass.
With that memory in mind, I saw my son off to school and carried the dripping load to the laundromat. Sure enough, the laundromat was empty except for one unwashed-looking joker asleep at one of the side tables. At the sound of my starting a washer, the disheveled guy roused himself and, with dusty, bulging, plastic garbage bag in hand, headed for the back of the laundromat. Emerging from the bathroom, the guy smelled like he had taken a bath in shit. If that wasn’t enough, he decided to use a machine in the same row as the machine I had chosen, despite the fact that every single washer — excluding mine — remained empty.
Unable to withstand the odor, I went outside for air — and thought the only words I wanted to hear from my husband from that point on were, “Here’s the new washer.” Before he left for work, hubby had said, “Be grateful that we have the money to buy a new washing machine.” Small comfort when I had to stand outside because the guy inside smelled like fecal matter and laughed loudly at intervals. Small comfort when I knew damn well that homeless people were strongly discouraged from gracing affluent neighborhoods with their presence. I’m aware that not all homeless people land in a trap of their own making. BUT I was sure that this guy’s trait of passive aggressiveness contributed to his homelessness.
By the time I loaded my clothes into the dryer, more homeless came in — although I suspected these were in transitional housing. Each had to tell a barefoot social worker, who reeked of stale tobacco, how many washers he or she used before the social worker doled out the coins. Earlier, this social worker had told a woman customer, “You can’t sit there. Another person will sit there” as if these seats had been reserved for social workers acting as shepherds for those unable or unwilling to run the race due to a questionable decision. The woman quietly relinquished the seat. While I considered his command rude, the worker didn’t truly piss me off until he commented to me, “We’re taking over.” This came after one fucker, ignoring the idea that there was an empty table about two feet away, chose to work less than a foot from where I folded dry towels. The bastard had never heard of personal boundaries. Unlike the woman, I wasn’t going to be told where I could stand or sit, and none-too-gently, I set the fucker’s bottle of detergent an arm’s length away. To the social worker’s disrespectful comment, I snapped, “It appears that way.”
There was one woman whom I felt landed in the pack due to sheer misfortune. Due to her slouched walk and open, gentle face, I suspected she was autistic. Pulling at her floral shirt, she asked me, “Does this match?” I told her, “Your shirt has blue in it, and your pants are gray. Yeah, your clothes match.” She said, “My pants have violet in them.” Amazed that I had not seen the reddish-purple undertones before, I said, “Yeah, it does. You’re okay. Nothing to get hung up on.” I thought ‘If you were born into a rich family, you wouldn’t be in this place with these fuckers. You wouldn’t be in here talking to me. You’d look down on your nose at me. Your maid would be doing your laundry, and you’d be painting or doing something with colors.”
I was relieved to walk out of that place. Funny how money can spell the difference between the laundromat and the colors of Life.