Preface: Is she a grandmother? Who bloody knows. All I know for certain is that she was a short, old lady…and this post might offend you.
Charlise runs a laundry business through a personal laundry LLC. One set of clients is comprised of four churches across the DFW Metroplex, washing their towels every three months. The towels are picked up in black trash bags, labeled with masking tape, and are wet. In the worst occurrences, some smell of piss. Those ones are not fun to handle.
Every time, some kind of system is in place. We go to a laundromat, because there is no way a home washing machine and dryer is going to get everything done in a timely manner.
This time, Char labeled locations of towels via color coding and circle stickers, like the kind typically used for a garage sale—they went on the doors of the six large dryers we used.
Every three months on a Tuesday, this laundromat has seen several bags of soiled towels come in and several bags of clean, folded towels go out.
Last year, the owner of the laundromat approached Charlise and was, like, thrilled she was there. That was when we had around 840 towels or so. Granted, he could have just been ecstatic over getting an extra $200ish that day, but hey—thrilled.
Everything is going dandy and stagnant, and then this little old lady walks in. For the sake of avoiding verbosity, let’s call her Granny. For one, she knows little about the inner-workings of these machines. She looks all down the front row—that is, the one you see upon entering the building, and then walks around to the other side.
It’s not that busy up in the laundromat today, but that doesn’t stop her from looking at three lone, regular-sized washers next to each other in the third row and saying, “Well, can you believe it? Three empty washers all by themselves!”
She’s a bit loud.
Charlise is only using the two big washers (first row, each end) for towels. I get that there is a lot of mess up in this joint once we get going, but there is logic and sincerity to our madness, yeah?
We continue folding.
Char leaves to go get more from the small U-Haul she had to rent, because her non-suspecting white van is broken and the auto shop she took it to to repair it? Useless. Every “fix” she paid for returned a vehicle even more broken.
Granny walks up to me and asks me if I work at a cafeteria and that’s why I have so many towels. A cafeteria? We get a lot of different questions sometimes. Char’s apparently been asked if she works at a hotel—that makes more sense. But, uhm, I don’t know what cafeteria has so many bath towels on hand. A water park would make more sense, even.
I say, “No, my cousin has a laundry business.” Before I can say anything else, her face has fallen and she says, “Oh,” and she’s walking past me—and I take this as utter disinterest. I work to finish folding the towels.
The cart I’m working on is nearly finished when she tells me the dryers behind me have gone off. I turn around and nod. I’m trying to be polite. This lady is to my left, and my left ear is my only grand one, and there is only so much sensory input I can take on a daily basis—but especially today, because it’s Day 3 or 4 of my cycle, minky is hot AF but I selected it anyway because I loved the dragon/mermaid scales, my allergies are lit, my bra is tight and making my chest hurt, and I’m running on approximately four hours of sleep (and no more).
I press the buttons to restart the dry cycle.
The dryers are free to use—one of the perks of this place—but even the employees go around and restart the cycles on dryers that have stopped tumbling. They only run for 10 minutes at a time, and while we don’t stuff them…well…the machines aren’t exactly state of the art.
The moment I restart for the first time in front of her? She’s irate. Have you ever watched an old timey film featuring a woman scolding a child or a man? “Now, why don’t you open those up and check them? They could be dry!” She’s not yelling at me, but she says this as I’m facing towards the dryers; my back is to her and my ears are switched. I’m hard-of-hearing in my right ear.
I also don’t have all the patience in the world required of me to give this woman the time of day she so desires—of which I’m not even sure the filler, because all she’s been doing is nagging me.
I finish folding the towels I’ve done and sit down on the bench by the window. Granny is watching the dryers spin like her life depends on it. Her clothes have literally just started, and we’re not taking up the regular-sized dryers. It’s like she’s bored, so she has to make my life miserable just because I’m a millennial and she’s older than me and thus thinks she can.
The employee currently there—let’s call her Overwatch, although she doesn’t anything look like Felicity Smoak—says something to me and points outside, but I can’t hear it or understand it because of sensory overload. I look outside, and Charlise is standing out there with bags on the ground and a hand on the trailer. Solara has awoken from her nap on her mother’s back.
I still don’t know what was said to me.
I keep looking outside and take a drink of water, and alas! Our faces meet! She starts waving me over frantically. I don’t know WTF’s happened, but the tiny storage trailer, unattached to the van because Brian went home in the vehicle to sleep and left for us the trailer for the purpose of towels? It’s still right-side up, but it’s tilting back, like, in the direction of the opening. I go to grab her phone, because if there’s anything living on a farm has taught me, it’s that you should always grab the necessities—phone, camera—when horses get their hooves stuck in bed frames. This situation was not as dire, but you never know, okay? And she had a baby.
However, I can’t quite grab her phone yet. In the midst of me working out WTF kind of mess Charlise has gotten herself into, Granny has bothered Overwatch about our shit. “She left—they’re out in the parking lot right now! They forgot their bag!” As I step up, she says, “Oh, good! I thought you left! I kept an eye on your bag! Do you want to take it with you?”
At this point, I’m really trying to get out there. All Char is doing is waiting on me, and it’s hot, and WHO KNOWS WHAT IS GONNA HAPPEN? I KNOW IT’S NOT A HORSE, but it’s a TRAILER. THEY HAVE MINDS OF THEIR OWN, OKAY? And she has a baby. And I don’t know about you, but something about surveillance cameras all over the place and a big screen TV in the cart area (at the front) rotating views of these cameras make me feel like there is a sense of understanding that you don’t steal, because it will be caught on camera.
And we were positioned right in front of one.
Regardless of what a lot of people—and even myself—say about Dallas and this suburban ghetto we were operating our towel smuggling business out of, it’s not that bad. Or ghetto. Or smuggling.
Like, last time? A guy asked me to watch his phone, left, and came back with gummy bears. I could have done shit to that phone—stolen it, broken it, etc. I mean, probably not, because he most likely locked it?! And I didn’t know he wasn’t going to be a customer of the laundromat beforehand, plus I’m not that kind of person…but STILL.
POINT IS, peeps don’t touch what doesn’t belong to them in this place, aiight? The only time they do is to move it because there genuinely isn’t anymore room elsewhere and it’s rush hour. (Which it wasn’t.)
Charlise forgot her wallet once, and a woman drove to her house to deliver it.
I surmise I entertained many fantastical thoughts about what could happen outside because it was better than what was happening inside.
The bag was Charlise’s.
The mission was to grab the phone.
I tell her I don’t need the bag—I just need to get outside already. I try to reason with her and explain the urgency of the situation at hand. I want to say, All our shit is fine. We do this every quarter. She comes in here all the time. We know what we’re doing. Please just mind your own business, because I don’t have patience today!
Charlise is fine. I accidentally fix the trailer by pushing on it slightly so the hitch is back on the ground. I’m sent in for a cart.
Granny is up in my business.
Like, if she could tell me when blood is going to seep into my pad, I’m QUITE SURE SHE WOULD.
I am livid. You guys, I’m not obvious when I’m livid. It’s more like, A fake smile here, wide eyes there…no…speaking…
The only people I tolerate micromanaging me is my family (not that that gives them a pass).
Whomever worked up the phrase “Respect your elders” was probably an older person themselves and wanted to create an all-up-in-yo-bitness pass, because that’s precisely what’s going on here.
I say, “It’s fine; we’re coming right back. But I have to get out there, because the trailer tumped over, and I have to help her.”
She seems concerned when she asks if the trailer is okay. But I don’t know. I don’t know anything about this woman, and she knows nothing about me—and that’s our problem.
Is she concerned? I don’t know. During cashier training at Walmart, I distinctly remember that some people—especially elderly women—venture out into the world to embrace socialization because that may be all that they get sometimes. Deep down, I want—and hope—to appease her with what little socializing I have to offer. On the surface, I want her to quit touching our things and watch the telenovela playing on the screen instead, because at least that drama is acted out by people who get paid to experience it!
I get back inside, and she has removed towels from the dryer and placed them on the folding table.
She moved some of my stuff.
It took us a bit to sort out what location she’d up and decided to pull towels from.
Ironically, she never showed concern for the item that should have taken precedence over ALL ELSE in the event that we had legit left: Charlie, a child.
#facepalm everywhere, everything, everyone 🤦🤦🤦🤦
Maybe she was genuinely concerned for the well-being of our things.
After she left, I saw two signs above the dryers that said to take our shit out—well, one was to remove stuff and the other said, “Thank you for yada yada when the cycle yada.” We never do that, and no one ever complains, and the reason we never do is because WHEN WE DO, people take those dryers and we lose those dryers—and we end up spending way more than six hours there, which is not fun.
On her way out, she went through the sliding doors outside. The doors shut. She came back inside—again, through the sliding doors, because this is the only relevant entrance and exit to customers. The doors shut. She gave off this odd impression. She came in and made a big show of it and said there was a piece of candy stuck in the door and that it wouldn’t open or close with the candy there—no way she could have seen it, considering its size and the fact that the black frames of the doors were much too large to allow someone to see into the nooks and crannies from the outside.
On her way out for the last time during our presence, she touched the black trash bag of soiled towels we needed to wash.
I TRIED SO HARD to refrain from laughing until she was gone—and then I lost it.
WHY DID SHE NEED TO TOUCH EVERYTHING? WHY?!
I’M SO CONFUSED.
That was my day.
Char said, “Granny needs a hobby.” ‘Tis the title’s origin.
How was your day?