Monday, November 08, 2010

Tales from the Laundry Mat: The Shaker

He was old and kinda dirty. In all honesty, I didn't get close enough to him to smell him. I just had a funny feeling that he might be a tad bit rank. I don't do rank very well.

The lower half of his face was covered in a scruffy graying beard and his hair was a wild mass that fell somewhere between Albert Einstein and an African Tribal Dancer. He didn't smile and he didn't make eye contact.

I was happy the laundry mat was busy that morning.

He'd gotten there before me, so he was already drying his load by the time I got mine started. I noted that he wasn't watching the television, but simply stood staring as his dryer did it's work. I wondered, because I'm just judgemental that way, if he was homeless. It made me a little sad to think that.

I sat there imagining his life, wondering if he had a family, and if there is a soup kitchen in this area. I was reminded that it has been quite awhile since I donated to the food bank. I felt guilty. After all, we have so much! What if this man had lost his job, then his home? It happens. It happens a lot.

Now this poor man probably wonders if he'll ever get back on his feet. How do you find a job when you can't take a shower or give a home address? More importantly, how do you find a job when there are no jobs?

I was ripped from my pondering by a loud SLAP!

I turned to see Scruffy Man shaking out his blue jeans, which had just finished drying.

SLAP!

He shook them again and they snapped loudly causing others to turn and watch.

Scruffy Man folded that pair of jeans with military precision. I watched in amazement as he took another pair of jeans and SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! He shook and folded them in the same way. He did this five times, each time filling the air with a loud, whip like noise.

He shook his shirts.

He shook his socks.

I don't think he had any underwear.

He placed each folded item of clothing neatly into a duffel bag.

"I knew it!" my mind whispered to me, "He is homeless!"

And I watched, a little sad, as he walked out into the cold morning air...and loaded his few belongings into a brand, spanking new, Jeep Grand Cherokee. With custom wheels and a custom paint job.

Then I felt like a doof.

6 comments:

Roo said...

I hope you'll pardon me, but I did have to chuckle when I got to the end. This sounds so much like what I would have done, the assumptions I would have made... all of it. Then to read that he was driving a nice car...SLAP! Thanks for sharing.

Travis Erwin said...

Without underwear, he should have been driving a jeep Commando.

T. Paine said...

Yeah, that whole judging a book by the cover thing occasionaly bites me too.

Years ago at a zoning hearing for work, a bedraggled older gentleman with scruffy and none-too-clean clothing stood up to comment on one of the issues before the committee. He seemed out of place even though his comments were eloquent and pertinent.


About a year later, I met him in person as he ended up being a landlord for a potential new cell site we were building. Come to find out he is one of the heirs to the Sachs fortune and has litteraly tens of millions of dollars. You never would've guessed from looking at him!

T. Paine said...

I LOVE Travis' comment! That is classic! :)

Kristen said...

Made me chuckle.

Sandcastle Momma said...

My MIL used to sell real estate and years ago a man came into her office. He was scruffy and a little dirty and she thought he was homeless but he asked her to show him the most expensive condo on the beach. She was skeptical but figured what the hell so she showed him the property. Turns out he was worth millions and bought it that day.
That not judging a book by it's cover thing is probably the wisest saying ever said.