I was at the laundromat yesterday morning using their hot water and slightly warm dryers. I had planned a quiet morning of watching the laundry go round and round in the machines and working on a Bible study.
Laundromats have rules. There are the published rules (like no dyeing in the washer) and then there are the unpublished rules. One of those unpublished rules is to give other people as much space as possible. And so I headed toward a row of machines that I thought was not close to any others that were being used; I was wrong. After adding the soap and bleach to my machines, I discovered that an older man was using the equipment right across from mine. Because I had made a poor choice of machines, we had to do the Laundromat dance of working around each other, being careful to not bump into the other person’s laundry cart or spilling detergent on the other’s laundry.
The notice on the machine said that the price of a wash cycle was $2.50. There were five slots in which to insert quarters and so I put in five quarters. Now, I am, most days, not entirely stupid; this was not true as I put my money into this Laundromat slot machine. I couldn’t figure out where to put the other 25¢. (I can hear you saying, “Jill, You needed to put in $1.25 more, not 25¢ more.” Didn’t I just report that I wasn’t thinking as I did this?) The machine had no slots for the additional payment. I looked around and then noticed the older man watching me. I said, “The machine won’t take my quarter.” He replied, “You have to double up in the slots.” I nodded, added one additional quarter, and then found that the machine still didn’t work. I tried several times and then looked at him again saying, “It still won’t work.” He smiled and said gently, “You have to double up in all of the slots.” It was then that I realized that ten quarters were required, two in each slot. I smiled back at him and said quietly, “Thanks.”
As I left the washing machine area, I sought out a quiet place to work on my Bible study. But, I couldn’t stop glancing at my helpful friend. He had a lot of laundry to do – worn jeans, plain t-shirts, work shirts, socks and the lot. When he got clothes out of the dryer, I noticed that one, long sleeved shirt, with buttons and collar was carefully put aside and not folded; it was clear that this shirt was going on a hanger later. In between tasks, he sat quietly, his hands shaking in front of him. Twice his cell phone rang. The first time, I could hear a female voice speaking quickly and loudly. He explained that he needed more time to finish his wash. The second time, he answered the phone and walked outside. There, a young woman in a “fast car” drove up. They spoke for a few minutes and she sped away.
I didn’t get much done on my Bible study, but thought about what had brought him here on this morning. His hands were bent with arthritis and there were hard calluses on each finger. His shoes were worn, top and bottom, and his laundry basket was a plastic tub with a broken handle. He smiled and moved aside when the two small children, speaking Spanish ran by him. He wore no jewelry and he had missed shaving for a couple of days.
I couldn’t stop praying for him and thinking about him. He had been so kind to me. No grunts of frustration came out of his mouth when I broke the unwritten Laundromat rules and he had not laughed when I couldn’t figure out how to put $2.50 into the slots of the washing machine. He did not know me, but he was kind to me.
It struck me. I needed to thank him and to bless his life. Earlier this year, our pastor had prepared “blessing cards” for us to pass out as we blessed others. Noticing that he had gone into the men’s room, I pulled a “blessing card” from my purse, wrote a quick note thanking him for being so helpful to me, added some cash, and put it on top of a pile of laundry he had folded earlier. When he came back to his laundry, I was busy getting clothes out of the dryer. He caught my eye a few minutes later and quietly mouthed the words, “Thank you, thank you.” I smiled back and turned as my eyes filled with tears. I prayed that his day would go well.
Funny, I had thought that the blessing cards were to bless others. God had a different plan.
Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
I want to spend more time each day tasting and seeing God’s goodness!!