Part of being retired and living in a 5th wheel travel trailer means giving up my washer and dryer at home, so visits to a Laundromat become a boring but necessary chore.

I stand at the washer feeding quarters into the 50 pound washer. It takes $5.50 which translates to 22 quarters. It feels like I am at the casino, but I get clean clothes from this deal instead of losing the shirt off my back. All that is missing is the alcohol. I probably could put something in a paper cup, no one would be the wiser, but I would rather have a Starbucks coffee anyway. I sit down to wait the 26 minutes for the wash. In my mind I try to divide 26 minutes into $5.50 but give up, too many numbers and decimal points. Too lazy to check the calculator on my phone. Actually, just don’t care that much about the answer.

I love to people watch and there are some people worth watching here. The really heavy lady in the purple print skirt with the purple hair to match. I think to myself “punk rock band, trying it out for Halloween or just a bad dye job“. The slender, young Hispanic woman with the darling baby girl cooing and gurgling in her car seat. The young man and wife (maybe she is the girlfriend, sister, never know nowadays). He is pretty funny. When I was talking to the baby, he asked me if I liked his baby, then laughed and said it wasn’t his. Later he asked me if someone was in the restroom. I wasn’t sure, so he knocked and opened the door and then said, “oh, excuse me, sorry” like someone was in there, but it was empty. Yep, pretty entertaining for a Laundromat.

Finally I am feeding quarters into the dryer. Now the action starts. This is where you put get 6 minutes for each quarter, so I don’t have to use my calculator; and for some reason I really do care how many minutes I get for each quarter. So I start checking how dry the clothes are and pull the dry ones out to fold and feed another quarter to continue drying the rugs, towels, sweatshirts and jeans.

While I stand there folding I notice several people coming in and checking out the free basket. I hadn’t noticed the laundry cart in the corner with a free sign. The lady in the jean skirt, hair in a bun gets out of a really old car. She comes in and sorts through the cart and walks out with a few items. A young mother gets out of the passenger side of a car full of kids and sorts through the cart and walks out with an armful of clothing. Two older women come in with 2 loads of wet clothes to dry and sort through the cart and help themselves to a few items.

I am at first appalled at the people that came in for clothes out of the cart and they were not even customers. At least the older ladies used the dryers while they helped themselves to the clothes. As I think about it, I finally identify my feeling as GRATEFUL! Grateful that I have enough money to do my laundry, grateful to have the time to sit and think, wonder and watch. Grateful that I don’t have to go to a Laundromat and find extra clothing in the free basket. Finally, Grateful to the people for filling the cart. The lost, forgotten or actually donated items waiting to be reused by people that needed them. I mentally add donate to my list of things to do.

Happy Thanksgiving to our family & friends!