Our washer was on the fritz, so I headed to the local laundromat after work one day. I was upset but I didn’t have to break down too. It was just laundry I couldn’t do within the comfort of my own home. All I needed to do was break a Jackson to get enough quarters for three loads of laundry.
I’d put all the baskets in my car before work. After getting off the train, I drove down the road to “Bubble-It” and found three washers in a row near the door and the plate glass. How much was that laundry in the window?
After playing washing machine slots to get all the washers tumbling, I set my alarm and drove farther down the street to visit my parents until time was up. I headed back knowing I had quarters left in my roll but reminded myself it was my washer that broke, not my dryer. I thought I’d just load up my wet laundry and let it take a spin at home. However, that was before I realized I’d have to heft about 187 pounds of wet clothes and towels in and out of my car.
I did the math of both time and expense and decided at 25 cents for seven minutes, I could stay for another 21 minutes and complete the task at hand. It was dark outside when I started but I had The Sun magazine to keep me company. Other dryers were going and people seemed to come and go, so I stayed to play again in my new found casino.
I counted out 9 more quarters and gambled on whether my towels would be fluffy enough to take back home. The dryers were popular. There weren’t three in a row and I hadn’t bet on that. A couple of dryers were also broken and there were no floor attendants to assist with the non-functioning machines here. I used one available dryer near the window and I found two more, one up and one down, toward the end of the row.
Once each of the three were spinning, I rotated back to the front window and got lost in my favorite magazine. After absorbing two articles, I got up to check the timers. 1, 2, 3 minutes left…each was almost done as a man came in to take out his clothes as well.
We said hello, wished each other a Merry Christmas and then got talking about his little kids. My first alarm went off as he added that he had six kids. I started folding as he mentioned their range in age and that he’d gotten started later in life. I folded another pair of yoga pants as he said he had just enough time to get back home and see them before bed. He finished putting all the clothes from his second dryer into a sack, threw it over his shoulder and took off like Santa Claus.
Once he was gone, I opened my own drawstring bag and put all my daughters intimates inside. I folded a couple of towels and wondered where the brown one came from? It’s always interesting doing dorm laundry. I find new clothes bought from a mall outing or stiff bathing suits that never got hung to dry.
I saw a ‘Pink’ wasteband and wondered exactly how many pairs of yoga pants my daughter now had? I folded it and added the Victoria Secret pant to its black pile in my laundry basket. I pulled out the matching zippered hoodie and was glad my daughter seemed to no longer wear XS clothes. While I was folding her stuff, I had heard the other dryers go off. One had our towels and sheets and the other load contained the clothes of my husband and I.
I know my daughters refold any clothes I wash for them but I figured it would keep the wrinkles at bay until they were put away. I had purposely left the jeans for last. If they weren’t 100% dry, I could finish drying them when I got home.
It was late, I was tired and there was nobody left in the building to distract me. I refocused on my task at hand and decided I could fold the other two loads at home. That’s when I noticed the jeans were from Old Navy. My 20-year-old may buy a workout top from there but we’d not bought jeans from there in years.
Hell no, I thought, as I held them up in front of me.
…her jeans were not a size 16!
The fucking brown towel was not her roommates.
She does NOT own 53 pairs of yoga pants.
…I’d touched someone else’s underwear!!
I threw everything back into the bohemouth machine as fast as I could. I dumped the drawstring bag of intimates out on top of the damn laundry that I’d taken the time to fold, closed the door and made sure nobody was coming back into the laundromat at that moment.
I turned back to see my daughter’s laundry sitting at rest in the next machine. I threw it all into my basket, wrinkles and all, and ran outside with her unbagged undergarments.
I doubled-back for our towels and sheets and made a second run for my car. The last of the loot was still inside. My own clothes were the ones in the front window, on the top, I reminded myself as I ran back in for the last of our laundry.
Time was suddenly of the essence. I’d spent 21-minutes waiting for dry laundry and God only knows how much longer violating someone else’s.
I did not want to come face-to-face with whoever it was. They couldn’t know who was behind their night time panty raid. It was a gamble to get out unnoticed. Too many minutes had passed.
I hedged my bets and left my dryer sheets and detergent bottle. Merry Christmas to them. I just wanted to be back in the comfort of my New England home.
In the woods.
Where I could finally break down, realize the error of my sleepy ways and count my losses.