Another truck lumbers up to the curb. I sit in the hard plastic seats that are strung in a line at the edge of the room, and try desperately not to be insulted by the implication that I would steal them were they not bolted down. Across the aisle, the washing machine is chugging and belching and spinning and the clothes are thick with lather.

It's early.

The occasional car whispers down the street in the steep slanted sunbeams of the new day. Shadows run red lights, as the cars that birthed them sit panting small clouds of exhaust onto the wet, black pavement. The light changes and they growl off. Their echoes linger for longer than they are welcome to.

I watch the laundry tumble and think about nothing. The coffee cup has numbed my hand with its radiated fury, but I barely notice it. I catch myself staring at the canted television set mounted to the wall on a bent bracket. It is leaning towards me like a conspirator as it hovers above the washers. It's not turned on, but I watch any way. Better that then the stew of clothing, suds, and water. I turn back to the truck and see if I am right.

He steps out.

He is in denim overalls and a heavy Carhart jacket. His boots tell one thousand stories. They are oily and covered in paint and sawdust from framing jobs too numerous to recall. They are translucent and thin where the leather is stretched over the steel toes. Raised pills of nicked and cut material stand off the surface of the heel like old, puckered, scar tissue. These are work shoes. He is a worker. His face is haggard and rough and hewn from granite. There is no smile below his mustache. There is no twinkle in his eye.

But I know he is one of us.

He hauls the two heaped hampers of dirty clothes in through the fogged glass of the front doors with oafish determination. We exchange a nod. I forget him and go back to the tumbling clothes as one of the machine whirrs to life in it's last spin cycle. It sounds ominous, sterile and mechanical. I see the carpenter nearly slip on the dryer sheets strewn all over the floor.

Another truck pulls up. Another single father gets out. We wash our clothes together in the early morning silence. We wash and dry and fold the capri pants and the silky pajamas and the tiny boxer briefs with Spider-man on them. We talk in hushed tones on cell phones to young ears, just waking from a long night's rest. We sit on the poorly shaped row of chairs, anchored menacingly to the floor and stare at TVs that just stare blankly back at us. We don't talk. We don't think. We don't wax poetic. We just wash and dry and fold and leave.

It is Saturday Morning and the traffic has begun to congeal on Main Street by the time we are done.


Char said...

beautifully written....and makes me wish I washed with you guys instead of the 5 hispanics and 3 homeless that I usually wash with.

Kurt said...

You must go Sunday mornings? That's when the migrant workers do theirs in my neck of the woods.

Char said...

sunday afternoons...

Mimi said...

Ah laundromat days.

Mine had Fanta Red Cream Soda and Ms. Pac Man... and it was 2003.

Cynthia said...

I just like a guy who knows what capri pants are.

Beth said...

That was so well written. The picture you painted was so clear, I was there, as well.

This is the third page of entries that I've read this frosty morn and I had to comment before I move on to my own blog. I'm loving your posts, your character.

Thanks for writing...