Doing the laundry has always been one of my least favorite chores. I’m the kind of gal who would throw a load in the washer, usually have to run it through the cycle a couple of additional times because I forgot it was in there, then leave it in the dryer until the next time. I would actually pull pieces out of the dryer in search of a particular shirt or pair of shorts, then toss the whole bunch back in. See? Hate laundry.
Last year I moved into a small apartment complex of twelve units where we share a common laundry facility. At first I loathed the idea of a washer and dryer outside of the apartment. How inconvenient! But my apartment building is old school… it was built in the 1960′s. No plumbing or electrical connections for installing my own personal equipment. So, like it or not, I had to get on board with the whole doing my laundry all at once concept. And you know what? It’s genius! Now, instead of never knowing if something is clean or dirty, instead of having to re-wash loads of sour smelling towels, instead of searching through piles of wrinkled clothes still in my dryer, I now get it done in 3 easy steps. Load of lights, load of darks, and my linens. Wash, dry, fold. It takes about an hour and a half and my laundry is done for the week. Easy peasy. Laundry is no longer one of my least favorite chores. I no longer care about not having equipment in my unit. In fact, I’m actually pretty happy with the new scenario. One might even say I’m learning to go with the flow.
This evening, however, I had a little, um… laundry ”situation”. On my way to transfer my wash into the dryers a friendly neighbor told me they had already put my towels in a dryer to free up a washer. “Thanks”, I said, and “let me get you some quarters to pay you back”. “Oh, I didn’t turn it on”, she tells me. Okay, no big deal… it was only a few minutes. So I went ahead to the laundry room and transferred my other loads into available dryers, put my quarters in the machines and off I went. As I eluded to earlier, I’ve got this new technique down pat. I know how long a wash load takes, and how long the dryers take. So imagine my surprise when I got back to the laundry room and two loads of my stuff were piled on top of dryers. And some of it still damp, to boot. Let me interject, the washers and dryers are brand new commercial units. 5 quarters will dry the biggest load of towels you can pack in… every single time. So why was my stuff 1) on top of the dryers and not still in them, and 2) damp? Obviously my “friendly” neighbor was in a hurry to get her laundry done. What’s the big deal, you wonder? Why am I even writing about this nonsense? Well here’s why:
As I stood alone in the little laundry room folding my stuff, I became indignant that someone would be so inconsiderate. Who do they think they are, messing with my stuff? I knew it couldn’t have been more than 5 minutes since the timer went off… Or wait! Did it even go off? Did they interrupt my drying cycle, pull my laundry out and stuff theirs in on my dime… or rather, 5 quarters? Is that why it’s still damp? (Now my simmer was up to a rolling boil.) That’s just SO RUDE, I thought. How hard would it have been for them to walk the 20 yards to my apartment, knock on my door and ask me to move my stuff… IF my dryers were even done, that is.
I was standing there folding my clothes, huffing and puffing like a lunatic over some silly laundry. But here’s the worse part… the embarrassing part… to quote the book “The Help”… the terrible awful: In my anger, as I was walking out of the laundry room, I did something that I never in a million years would have imagined possible… I opened the dryer doors so that their laundry would stop drying. I KNOW! It’s TERRIBLE. AWFUL. Even as I did it I felt horrible. I walked those 20 yards back to my apartment in shame. I carried my laundry baskets into my bedroom completely disgusted with myself. As soon as I sat it on my bed I found myself rushing to my linen closet, grabbing my coin purse and literally running back to the laundry room. Though the red light was still on (indicating there was still time left) I shoved more quarters in the slots and turned those machines back on. Then I hightailed it out of that room before anyone was the wiser.
What a fool I had been, making such an issue over something so insignificant, degrading myself in the process. Something that in reality could have been my fault; I could have timed it wrong. And even if it wasn’t my fault… even if the other party did swap my drying time for theirs… so what? Did anyone get hurt? Was there any blood shed? And, more importantly, why was I being so petty and vindictive? I’ve dealt with far, far greater problems recently… why did I get so riled up over this?
I don’t have an answer for that, but I do know this: Too often in our lives we get caught up in trivial matters. We allow ourselves to become upset over the smallest of wrongs, the slightest inconveniences. Someone cuts us off in traffic? Swear at them and flip them the bird. Someone cuts in line at the supermarket? Make rude comments about them to the person behind us. Someone puts your clothes on the top of the dryer? Turn their dryer off. It’s ridiculous. It’s unnecessary. It’s unkind. And it’s beneath us. Why can’t we stop sweating the small stuff and just learn to go with the flow? That’s what I’m working on.