“I’m a fucking lady,” she screamed in a voice thick with the promise of tears and violence, “Where’s he at? Where the fuck is he at?”
No one answered.
Silence is one of the first rules of avoidance isn’t it? Pretend you don’t see them and the potentially crazy, violent person will fade away? I didn’t know who ‘he’ was where ‘he’ went and since I wasn’t looking at her in the first place, I didn’t know who it was that she could not see.
Each time I go to the laundromat I vow it will be my last. For at least six months, my dryer at home has been broken. I repaired it once before and the cost was more than the cost to replace it. I have agreed to buy my husband out of the house--if it makes financial sense for me to do so, and I haven’t decided that it does. To purchase a dryer, have someone haul it up my 28 stairs, down the 10 or so stairs to the basement and haul the old one up 10 or so stairs and down 28 stairs, implies a commitment I am not quite sure I want to make.
And so, I haul my family’s bags of dirty clothes to the laundry, holding my breath to avoid the aroma of dirty linen, clothes and under things being stuffed into over-sized 32 quarter washing machines. It was 100 degrees this morning, a good enough reason to uncrinkle this week’s circulars in search for a dryer, but there would be other reasons.
“I’m a fucking lady,” she screamed again.
Now, usually if you have to tell someone that you are a fucking lady, it’s a pretty good indication that you aren’t acting like one, but now did not seem the time to mention it, and I couldn’t mention it if I wanted to, since I was ignoring her in the first place.
“What are you? Cart warrior?” she accused the laundry attendant after spying him whispering into the payphone.
Between her stomping in and out of the glass doors, and sounds of what I assumed were her putting her laundry into the washer, the other customers and I heard how the “coward-ass attendant assaulted” the” lady” in front of her “fucking kids” and grabbed the cart she had illegally taken into the parking lot to load their dirty clothes.
“You don’t know who the fuck I am,” she continued with a New York accent mingled with anger and helplessness.
I didn’t see her ‘fucking’ children and unless they were very low to the ground (where I was looking). I hoped to avoid seeing them.
The lady in the laundromat was indignant even after the police came. The police asked her what was wrong. She explained (without the curses) and then they asked the attendant (who was safely outside) some questions. They came back in and informed her that the attendant wanted her to leave. She had to gather her soaking wet laundry out of the washing machine, restuff them into plastic bags and gather her children, clothes and pride back to her car and leave the premises--now.
“What about my fucking 33 quarters?” she asked.The attendant could not (or would not) open the machines, and as the lady explained, 33 quarters is a lot of “fucking money” if you don’t have it.
A young woman interrupted, “Miss,” she volunteered, “I got it.”