I was on my way to a laundry with my bath mat cradled in my arms, when I happened to pass one I’ve never noticed before.
A tiny, elderly Asian woman was in this little space, all alone folding sheets.
On impulse, I went in.
The whole place seemed as if it was moved by flat truck from another era, from the starkness of the walls to the lone light bulb dangling from the ceiling. But the one thing that you couldn’t miss, was the detectable smell of cleanliness.
My kinda place.
When she saw me, she gently placed her sheet across a table covered with oilcloth, before coming over.
Her tired face greeted me with no expression, when it realized it forgot its mask. I laughed since, this happens to me often, now keeping a spare in my purse.
“How much to wash my mat?” I politely ask.
She takes it, unfolding it like a flag, looks it over and says…
“5 dolla…should be 8, but I…no mind.”
I, of course, immediately fall in love with the Asian Joan of Arc.
Quickly deciding for 5 bucks, rather than sit by a noisy washer/dryer for two hours, can go home to write, said…
She chirps, “Come back…3. “
I thought of her during the day, how hard she must work, yet can still find it in her to be kind to a stranger.
Promptly at 3, I return with a modest box of cookies and a tea bag.
I’ve learned to give appropriately, so not to embarrass nor upset the recipient.
I then watch this tired, old face break into a smile, as she hands me, Mat, who smells like the sea on a sunny, summer’s day.
We’ll be back.