by Shirley Drew
“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”
As I stood facing a dryer that was a minute or two from stopping, I positioned the rolling basket in front of me so I could pull the clothes from the dryer into the basket. Suddenly a man strode through the door, walked directly toward me, grabbed the basket and wheeled it quickly to a washer on the other side of the room. I said, “Hey, I was using that.” He replied, “You were just standing there. I need it now. These baskets are for everyone in here—not just you.” I was astonished. As he wheeled it across the room and loaded his clothes into it, I made a loud comment over my shoulder to my husband about his rudeness. That’s when everything spiraled out of control. He began shouting obscenities at me. During this rant, he said, “I work for a living, unlike some people.” I replied that I work for a living too. He said he didn’t care what I did. And on it went. At some point he got in my face and began telling me what I could do with my complaint about the basket. I responded in kind. I am not proud of this, but in the interest of honesty, I need to tell you that my behavior was every bit as rude as his. Even as it was happening, I couldn’t believe it. I was angry and shaking. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see other patrons of the laundromat staring at us. This whole interaction lasted about 30 seconds. You may wonder what my husband was doing during this exchange. I think he was in shock. At some point he walked over and called the man a “jerk.” A jerk? Really? Is that the best you can do? I thought. The man responded in kind. He walked back to the basket and pushed it hard in my direction from across the room. I caught it just before it smacked my leg. Then he stomped out of the laundromat and jumped in his truck and drove away. Then all I could hear was the sound of the washers and dryers doing their jobs.
People went back to their sorting and folding. A man folding his laundry next to us said, “We’re not all like that.” I responded by saying, “I know. Neither are we.” Clearly there was an understanding that he was among the locals while we were obviously tourists. Were we that easy to spot? Apparently so. And I’m guessing that’s what triggered the whole thing.
While I was furious at that man for treating me as he did, I had to admit I was more troubled by my response to him. You see, his behavior doesn’t really matter. But mine does—to me at least. Sometimes it’s hard to admit the truth about something we’ve said or done. But writing the truth about it is even harder. Still, I think we must try.