Wednesday, March 14, 2012 we were greeted by people, with their laundry, who had begun waiting at 5:30 in the afternoon. Time to get organized.
The mood was mainly genial. People were happy and grateful to have an opportunity to wash bedding that had gone too long between washings. The comfort of a freshly laundered blanket was evident as people put their warm softness to their face.
We saw some old friends and met new ones. The king of low maintenance returned with the same green army duffel filled with the same clothes as last time, ready to be laundered. More quiet this evening, he read a book, pages yellowed with age, as the washers swished and whirred along with oldies playing on the boom box. Couples, families, people with homes, people with a car to sleep in, people with nothing but the pile of dirty blankets in their arms, all together, happy and grateful to be able to do their wash.
A slender, weathered man with a patch over one eye, regaled us with a recitation of his book, memorized, since it took him seven years to complete, about a dog who’d been abducted by aliens. It was imaginative and delightful, interweaving dustbowl history with fantastic events and filled with colorful characters.
About halfway through the evening, a short, dark-haired woman with a broad smile came hurrying up to the table.
“I have a lot of laundry.”
“Bring it in,” I told her.
Steve helped her and her carry bags and buckets, a pillow, and blankets.
“Thank you so much. Thank you so much!” she said. “This is a God-send. Thank God.”
Later, I walked the Laundromat, checking for open washers, she saw me and threw her arms around me. In chatting with her, we found she came from Egypt, where she had suffered religious persecution. She taught us Arabic words for God the father, Ahb, and told us about Christianity in her country.
A family with two young children returned also. That night, the children stayed home with their father. I was sorry not to see them. They both were so well-behaved, colored quietly while their parents worked together to do the laundry, and returned our coloring books when they were finished with a polite, “thank you.” Their mother told me about her 3 year-old daughter who wanted to go to school so badly with her brother, she would put on her backpack and tell her, “I go to school now mommy.”
Later in the evening, the woman pulled me aside to ask if I knew of a way to get renter’s assistance. I could see it was hard for her to say this. The family, immigrants and legally in the states, were nicely dressed, spoke very good English, and had pride in themselves. Her husband had not been able to make the same money he’d been making before the current economic times in restaurants. I knew the Section 8 housing list had recently closed and I had nothing to offer. I told her I would keep my ears open for other possibilities. I’m looking into it. It’s hard to not be able to help. I want her little girl to put on a backpack and go to school.
Overall, success. We made new friends, visited with old, and played music on the guitar. We are learning about how to do this thing and get it to run more efficiently and are all looking forward to the next event on Wednesday, April 11, 2012. Come on down. Make new friends. Leave a little happier and smelling like soap and dryer sheets! Connie Bouvier Pictures from the evening.