My daughter and I live in a wonderful place in Dallas, TX but we don’t have washer/dryer connections. Going to the laundry mat weekly has been a new urban experience for us. After scouting out many laundry mats in our area, we settled on the one with the best machines. At our laundry mat, we are usually the only ones that speak English but we have used this as an opportunity to practice our novice Spanish language skills. The laundry mat is usually full of people, some are old and some are young. I have tried to make a dreary weekly chore fun and adventurous. We play Pacman and try to guess what they are saying on Spanish TV, but my favorite part is the jukebox – it usually plays Mariachi music. I love it! I have fine tuned the weekly laundry mat visits to under 2 hours. That is driving into the parking lot and driving out.
One day last winter, we doing the usual weekly adventure of washing, loading, and folding and hanging clothes….being a single mom – I was also trying to cram about three other activities into the time too. I had brought my daughter’s dinner – she ate, she did her homework, and practiced her spelling words. We were in the laundry zone.
Earlier, I had noticed water on the floor and evidently it was coming from a washer. The laundry attendant came with a large industrial size bucket full of dirty water and begins to mop up the water. As she gets the mop out of the bucket she flings a bunch of water everywhere barely missing my daughter and I and our folded laundry. I was not happy about this and quickly put my hand up and said, “Stop, please you are getting water all over us.” I know there was a language barrier but I had used a kind tone and held my hand up (a universal sign). The laundry attendant looked at me and continued to mop the water up and dip the mop back into the bucket. Again, she removes the mop from the bucket and flings water everywhere again barely missing us and our clean clothes. I look at the woman in the eyes with my blood boiling and out through my mouth comes my voice singing Amazing Grace at the top of my lungs. Everyone in the laundry mat stops and turns around and is staring at my daughter and I. My daughter is acutely aware all eyes are on us and she just grins at everyone and softly says with great concern in her voice “what are you doing Mother?” In which is I sing to her “I’m singing a song”. Well I only know part of Amazing Grace so on the parts I can’t remember I start humming until I get to the chorus again. I can’t say I am much of a singer so I am sure there were many thoughts running through everyone’s minds – one can only speculate as there was stunned silence hanging in the air.
But it was interesting…..while everything had stopped for a few seconds and silence had fallen – I realized I had sung a universal song – a spiritual song and through this song I was able to communicate peace and love….. the woman finished mopping moving to the other side of the laundry mat and I gathered my child and clothes up and we left without incident. I suddenly felt refreshed and inspired!