I did some laundry today, and having done my time, my years and years in laundromats, I can say without reservation that I have never put a load of laundry into my very own washing machine without being grateful for it.
I used to really hate the schlep to the laundromat -- carrying everything, trying to make it adhere to a certain number of loads, having the change, having the soap, having the time, waiting for a machine, having to add more money to the dryer, sitting there with everyone else.
There's something unnatural about folding your underwear in front of strangers. In my rush to get out, I would force myself to take someone's abandoned wet laundry out of the washer and stick it in a cart so I could get going with mine. I dreaded touching it, but I'd rather touch it than wait longer. When the person arrived, they were typically slightly pissed off, and I could remain anonymous, and the person would have this attitude of "how dare anyone move my clothes and dump them in a wet heap like this." Too bad; next time,return in time.
Once this really decrepit homeless guy came in and he was literally washing what looked like rags, but they were his clothes. Luckily mine were already swishing away but he was so dirty that I feared, truly, for whoever put their clothes in that machine next.
I went to mention it to the attendant and she sort of yawned, bored, reached for a gallon of bleach, had me point out the machine he'd just used and she dumped the entire gallon and ran the machine as if this were a routine thing to do -- like asking the waiter for ketchup. I guess I expected some kind of discussion, or even a rebuff from her like "hey, don't worry about it" but she had her plan.
Someone told me once that a homeless person snuck their clothes into his machine while they were being washed -- sort of piggy backed on his clothes. It still makes me shudder.
Of course, I would call myself a bleeding heart liberal, but there's no liberal heart that bleeds so much, as to be OK with a homeless person's clothes in with mine. Mother Teresa would complain.
Oh, perfect segue. There was a homeless guy on my block who claimed to be blind, but he wasn't, and he was just plain nasty, would yell at people, even people who gave him money, he'd yell like it wasn't enough and how that person who just gave him money was a g.d. cheap so and so.
Well, one day I was walking down my block. It was the day Mother Teresa died, and I saw him. I decided that to honor Mother Teresa and her selfless life, I would be momentarily selfless and be pleasant to him. So as I got near him, I bent over, smiled and said cheerily, "Hello... how are you today?"
He screamed at me, "Get away from me you g.d. c-word. You g.d. c-word. You c-word!" Except he didn't say c-word, he said the c-word. Yeah, that one, the disgusting one. He literally was bellowing down the block after me "You g.d. c-word!!, you c-word!"
Mother Teresa would have slapped him. So much for selflessness.
And that is why, among other reasons, I say a little prayer of gratitude every time I do a load of wash in my very own machine.