Sometimes things happen and force you into a situation that you have otherwise avoided for a long time.

In college, we had a laundry room on every dorm floor. One summer I remember lugging laundry up New Mexico Avenue to the campus from my summer apartment. Otherwise, I have always lived with a washer and dryer. For the last 2 months we have had a dryer and now a washer that have been on the fritz. Possessed more like it. The repair man says the part will be in next week. Urrrrrr.

So, this morning, I separated all the dirty laundry into loads, packaged detergent, fabric softener and counted out quarters. I packed a sandwich, a drink, my iPod was charged and I had a book. I actually had a basket full of a load I washed last weekend that was the final downfall of the washing machine’s pump. This basket had to weight 70lbs soaking sopping wet. I took it and 4 other large loads to the laudromat around the corner.

Industrial sized washers allow you to wash double loads. In 3 hours I washed and dried the equivalent of 7 loads of laundry. It came home neatly folded and separated for each family member. I even matched all the socks, which I never do. It is my passive aggressive stance to leave socks unmatched in the hope that someone else will feel compelled to do their small part. OK……I realize this is sad and twisted.

The interesting part of today’s experience was a chance to be almost completely devoted to a single task. I listened to Narada while everything washed. I ate my lunch. Then I listened to Mary J. Blige while I folded. I also got to watch the other people using the laundro-mat.

There were a two other middle aged white women (older than me), a very elderly white man, two African-American mothers. One had a very sweet, active 20 months old son. The other’s tween aged daughter seemed very helpful. All of these people were also singularly devoted to their task. There was also an extended family of Latinos. I presume they were Mexican or from Central America. They came as a large group with their laundry in large, black trash bags. Their cars had Michigan tags, so I think they must be migrant laborers, following the crops. They spoke Spanish, but the cadence of their speech was different from Cuban or Puerto Rican. They had their toddlers and children with them. I noticed they were washing a lot of large fleece blankets. It made me wonder how cold they were at night if they need blankets in Florida. Did their homes have heat? What was home?

I stood there with my iPod plugged into my ears and my Blackberry clipped to my belt. I felt very conspicuous. I felt like an oddball. It was not that I felt above this task. In fact, I felt wonderful to be standing and tending to my family in the same way all these other women were. I felt a particular companionship to them. At that moment, we were all the same. Our undergarments needed washing. Our socks needed matching. Our towels needed to be dried.

These were honest hard-working people….all of them. And we stood together and watched our clothes tumbler around. It is good to just be normal, to do the mundane, necesssary tasks.

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