Listen to Jim:
or read on…
Outside-in socks, neatly folded underpants
and buttoned-up Book-Em Danno shirts as evidence of character
This evening, I open the first big bag of wash-dry-fold from an unfamiliar neighborhood laundry and wish for the best.
After all, for decades, the Laundry Ladies at the just-closed Flamingo Cleaners have been taking care of us—the Reed family of 17th Street South. Each week, I gather everything dirty-but-washable into these drawstring bags and toss them over the banister to the foyer below. The resultant THUDS are part of the ritual of the morning. Then, I lug the bags to the car and drop them off on the way to work. At the end of the day, there are few things more satisfying than still-warm gently-sorted-and-folded sweet-smelling garments ready to be tucked away in closets and drawers. The most satisfying part of this ritual is the fact that, in all these decades, I haven’t had to wash a single item of clothing myself!
Back in a previous life, the task of sitting for hours in a laundromat usually fell to me, and I always considered it to be an incredible waste of perfectly good time. I recall as a small child watching my mother literally toil over clothes-washing, having to stir and scrub them by hand in a tub, rinse them, wring them out, hoist the water-heavy garments onto her shoulders to the backyard, where they were one by one tidily smoothed straight and hung out to dry, later to be brought inside, pressed, sorted, folded and put away.
But, as I say, I got out of having to feed quarters into broken machinery many moons ago, and my mother eventually got some machinery that made her life somewhat easier. I just never got her toil out of my mind and hoped my wife would never have to do what she had to do.
Anyhow, the Laundry Ladies always took care of the task, usually with good humor and silent professionalism. And, unlike Mother, they were paid to do so.
But today is the first day I’ve had to use a new wash-dry-fold facility, and I’m hoping for the best.
As I empty the clothes onto the upstairs master bed, I’m pleasantly surprised. And grateful! That’s because I begin to realize, as I put things away, that the new laundry folder has added personality to the process. My socks, always turned inside-out because I wear them that way, have been methodically matched and turned outside-in, because that’s the way socks should be. My BOOK-EM DANNO shirts are not only folded, but they are buttoned up—something I’ve never experienced. Everything is categorized and ready to use.
This might be evidence of someone who truly loves the job of washing-drying-folding, someone who takes pride in the task, someone who gains some degree of satisfaction from having done well what could be considered an uninteresting and repetitive chore.
So, what’s the difference between this service worker and my previous Laundry Ladies?
Not much, on one level—the Laundry Ladies were very proficient, friendly, poorly paid and overworked, but they kept on keeping on, doing what they could do, and doing it dependably well. The mysterious new laundry worker is equally task-driven and polite, but that extra bit of care, that WILLINGNESS TO DO MORE THAN THE JOB REQUIRES, speaks of an earlier generation, an almost forgotten work ethic that only us geezers with good memories recall.
This makes me wish to do a shout-out of THANKS! to all people who rise above their potentially humdrum jobs. The people who take time to find some joy and satisfaction in the hands they are dealt. The people who tend to do that special one little thing beyond the call of duty and cause an involuntary smile to appear on a customer’s face.
Makes me want to be a better worker myself