The apartment complex where I live has three separate laundry facilities – the one closest to me is not far so hefting a basket down there to wash isn’t a big deal. The machines can all be used with coins OR credit cards, which I really like. One heaping basket of clothes is usually two loads of laundry – sure i could mix it all together but I separate lights and darks (I’m a clothes racist and believe in segregation). I’d still prefer to have a washer and dryer in the unit, but this works, I can always find two machines next to one another.
This particular time was no different than the rest – laundry in the basket, detergent capsules on top. As I approached I could see two other people in the facility, nothing new there. I went in and said hi to the person closest to the door – she just glanced and me warily and then towards the other person there. I looked back there and didn’t think anything of it and said hello to him as well. As I was loading the washing machines I noticed the woman kept looking past me at the guy in the back, so I took a better look at him.
The man was really skinny, with a short hair cut. He was wearing a blue short sleeved shirt and tan shorts with flip flops. His eyes were hooded and he wasn’t there. Very slowly, slow-motion like, he would pick up a piece of clothing, hold it to his chest an fold it. I think I loaded two washing machines in the time it took him to fold that one piece of clothing. He was shaking as he moved and every once in a while I’d hear a loud “sniff”.
“None of my business” I thought and proceeded to pay for the machines, set the timer on my phone and headed back to my apartment. But the man gnawed at my thoughts on the way back – he must have been on something, maybe he has mental issues – again, none of my business was the thought that rose to the top.
When the timer went off I headed back to start the drying cycle, thankful that the odd one would be gone, but as I approached I could see he was still there in the back of the room, his basket where it was when I left. As I approached I saw he was still moving at a snails pace, even the simplest of motions.
It wasn’t until I was on my way out that I noticed the clothes he was folding were dirty. I could see dirt, red stains and what I hadn’t noticed before was the smell from back there – a mildewy scent wafted from that side of the room.
This was several months ago now, and I’ve not seen that guy in there since. But I wonder what’s become of him sometimes and what he was on. A small part of me wonders if he was enjoying himself – it was hard to tell what he was feeling when I would look at him.