I deposit my quarters, pour in my soap, and select the button, “colors.” And wait. The water should be streaming out, mixing with the soap, so that I can deposit my dirty clothes into the washer. And, nothing. Okay, maybe “colors” is out of commission. I try “bright colors.” Nothing. “Whites.” Nothing. “Delicates.” Nothing. Damn.
I walk across the street, because I know that the man who owns this laundry also owns the corner store across the street. There are a couple of other men in the corner store, hanging out, watching the ball game on tv.
“Hi! I put my money in the washer, and the water isn’t working.”
“No, number 20. I tried all the selections: colors, bright colors, whites, none of them worked.”
“Did you say-ah the prayer?”
I think I’ve heard him ask me if I’ve said a prayer to the washing machine. No. I couldn’t have heard that. That would be silly.
“Did… A… Did you just ask me if I said a prayer?” I stammer.
“Yes. The prayer. To the washing machine.”
Am I really hearing this? I look at the other men. They nod in agreement. The prayer. To the washing machine. Of course.
“Um. No, I didn’t. I mean, I’ve said prayers. Even today. Well, maybe. I opened and shut it several times, hoping it would work. Is that maybe the prayer?”
“No-ah. Go and say-a the prayer. The washing machine work then.”
I stand there, perplexed. Am I really having this conversation? Obviously I am. I go back across the street and say a couple of prayers for machine 20. It still doesn’t work.
Back in the corner store, I tell the proprietor, “I said the prayers. It still doesn’t work.” At this point, I just want a refund of my two, yes TWO, dollars that I deposited into the machine for the privilege of washing my clothes.
“You said-ah the prayers?”
“Yes. The prayers were said.” I motioned with my hands together, mimicking a bowing, praying stance.
“You slam the lid?”
Is he questioning whether I broke his machine?
“No. I didn’t slam the lid.”
“You need-ah slam the lid.”
“Well. I opened and closed the lid. I tried to make it work.”
Another man in the store, obviously familiar with machine 20, said to me, “No, you need to slam the lid. That’s how the water comes on. Press really hard in the center. That helps, too.”
“I already moved my clothes. Washer 20 isn’t working. I just want a refund. That’s all.”
The proprietor looks peeved. “Two dollars?”
“Yes, two dollars.”
“But the machine has to-ah run.” He motions to one of the guys watching the game. “Go across the street. Machine 20. Slam-ah the lid. Up and down. Hard. Go.”
I wait. Will I get my refund? He thinks for a moment, then nods. “Okay. I give you refund.”
Note to self. Don’t use machine 20 again.
I return to the Laundromat, ready to put my clothes in the dryer. Wait a minute. What is this? For some unknown reason, I had a rosebud in the pocket of the jean jacket that I’ve just washed. Rose petals are everywhere, stuck to my somewhat clean clothes, stuck to the metallic walls of the washing machine. Uck.
I open the washer with my whites/colors. I’ve washed a magenta t-shirt that obviously was not colorfast. I need to just go back to bed.