Laundry…. Uuk! I’d been putting it off and putting it off until I couldn’t. I need to just go in and take over the Laundromat – ya know, 8 million loads at once – sheets, blankets, towels, rags…the entire wall of washers is mine. But, not on a weekend. Seems rude when there are so many people. So, a small load will do. A few things to get me ‘til Tuesday or Thursday when I can really do the laundry.
So, I toss it all in the washer – including the green string bag I carry it in and run off to get some coffee. In a rare case of great timing I return just as it is finished spinning out. Yeah! So… I toss it all (including the green string bag) into a dryer. I’ll get some work done while it dries. It’s gonna be sittin’ in the car when I leave here and I hate that smell if you don’t get it hung up right away. So, I toss it all in and start the dryer.
Shit – no internet. Now I want to hurry and go. But, while I would usually just take it damp and hang it, (as I said) it’ll be sitting in the car. So, I pull out things as they dry. Willing them to dry faster.
String bag comes out first. It’s string. It dries fast. I fold it up and put it on the counter.
Next mostly underwear and a few tanks come out. I fold them and put them on the counter.
I turn back to the drier – nothing else is dry. Then I notice him. A man is digging through my laundry. I look at him with a look that clearly says “why are you digging through my underwear?” And before I can form the words he says to me in a rather annoyed tone. “You have my bag. I left my bag on the counter and you’ve put your stuff on it.”
“I’m sorry sir”, I reply, “there was nothing on the counter. That is my bag.” He goes on to insist it is his, and asks me why I am stealing his bag. I point out to him the hole in the bottom and the fact that the draw string is broken so I have to just tie a knot in the top to carry it. He is not convinced. He asks me rather annoyed sounding “what am I gonna do with my laundry if you have my bag? Why ya gonna take my bag.”
Now – here is the crazy part. Even though I know I haven’t taken his bag I start to feel guilty. As if maybe I somehow did. Maybe I blacked out and started stealing laundry bags. Maybe I am just an awful person. Maybe….
I start frantically looking around for a 2nd bag. I check my drier. No bag. I check the washer where I had my clothes. No bag. I look on the counter and in the cart I used. No bag. I check the dryer – again. Nothing. I check other washers and driers. I look around on the floor. I look in the garbage. I look. I look. I look. Nothing.
“I am sorry sir,” I say – initiating more conversation. I really wouldn’t steal from you. But if they look alike I can see where there might be confusion.” I tell him where I have looked. I suggest we ask the attendant if he’s seen a green bag. The man shouts across the room to the attendant who assures us he has not seen anything.
We both go back to folding our clothes next to each other him rumbling that he can’t believe I would just take his bag. I could buy one for a dollar why am I gonna take his?
I can’t stand it. I feel guilty. I feel awful. This is crazy. And even crazier – I cannot let it go. “Sir” – I approach him again, “I feel bad and awkward and I don’t know what to do. We both obviously really believe this bag belongs to us. I really believe it is mine. I looked all the other places mine could be and it’s not there. It has the hole and the broken draw string. But I do not want to ruin your day or there to be problems between us over a $1.00 bag. What else can I do?” “You can take this bag.” I offer.
“No”, he says. It is my fault. I should know better. I shouldn’t leave my stuff around. I should know you can’t trust that people won’t steal it. He turns away.
I can’t stand it. I pull my laundry out – still damp – cram it in the bag and leave.
Hours later I’m still bothered by the fact that this total stranger thinks I took his bag. I still feel bad that I couldn’t “fix it.” – Not ruin my day bad – but bad.
How fucked up is that?