Time to Settle Accounts
February 6, 2012: The laundromat.
The laundromat was large and white, moderately populated, quiet, timid, focused, relaxed, calm on this Monday afternoon. My hiking pack was filled with t-shirts, boxers, and socks from the first few days, along with a towel and my brother’s bed sheets. I had stopped at the Fresh & Easy across the street and purchased a box of these sugary frosted cake-like cookies along with the tastiest, sweetest, god-givenest apple juice known to man and a small bag of plastic cups, and then walked back across Eagle Rock to set up my washer.
My idea was to start my laundry, plug in my computer, pour myself juice, and then offer a cup and a cookie to whoever wanted one. But with no outlets near seating and a battery meter reading REPLACE NOW, my computer plan was kaput. And no one was talking or looking up, creating a barrier for socially acceptable public snack dispensing. So I sat in my seat, back to the window, an unfocused stare down the aisle, enjoying a cup of juice.
In my field of vision was a woman seated on the opposite wall and two people in the aisle loading washers. To my right was a young woman applying mascara, and then a young family, mother, father, and two pre-schoolers dressed only in diapers. They were barefoot and grinning and bouncing in their seats as mother folded one load and father transferred another from wash to dry.
I turned my head back down the aisle. The woman across the room flipped her eyes my way. I looked at her and she responded with a you-looking-at-me? look. I turned away and saw the mother loading her children into their car while the father watched the last dryer run. I walked over to him.
“I see you have young kids. I’ve got a box of cookies and some really good apple juice, if they’d want any.”
“I bought them for my brother and his roommates, but I’ve got a whole box if your kids want one. I remember when my brother and I were young and my parents were just trying to manage us. Cookies helped.”
We walked over to the cookies, the box still unopened.
“I’m not – are you selling these?” he asked.
“No no, just bought ‘em for people.” I opened the box. “Go ahead.”
He took two. “Well thank you – they’ll love them I’m sure. And you know what – ?” and he grinned and took one more for himself. “Thanks!”
He took them to his wife in the car with the kids, and I returned my look to the aisle. I checked my wash – 6 minutes.
I sat back down and poured more juice. My eyes flashed forward again, and again they crossed with the woman at the other wall and again she challenged me with a stare and a cock of the head. Now I was drawn in, and when she stood to check her load halfway down the aisle, my eyes caught her again.
She looked over, perturbed. “Yes?”
“Nothing,” I pleaded.
She shot me another glare and nodded in annoyed victory, and I blended in the rest of the time by picking up my phone to read articles off twitter and finishing my laundry.
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