Quarters and Smiles

Saturday I was running around the house like a chicken about to lose it’s head with a long to-do list of things that had to get done. Captain Cavedweller, of course, was working so that left me to tackle all my self-inflicted projects on my own.

And as luck would have it, my blasted, expensive, completely stupid washing machine decided to have a melt-down when I had five loads of laundry that needed done sooner rather than later.

Poor Captain Cavedweller made  the mistake of calling me while he was eating lunch to see how my day was going. It may be a while before he does that again due to the earful he received about the world falling apart at home, at least in the laundry room.

“Just take everything to the laundromat,” he said.


Easy for him to say, because he wouldn’t have to go hang out there for days of his life while hovering around the icky machines waiting for the loads to finish.

Scrounging through every vehicle, junk drawer, couch cushion and CC’s secret stash of coins for pop machines, I came up with what I hoped would be enough quarters to get the job done, loaded the laundry and reluctantly drove to the laundromat. There was only one woman there with her two little boys, so I quickly loaded up machines and got things rolling. I was dumping in the last load when I realized I was one quarter short.

Really? One quarter?

I’d already dug under the car seats, riffled through the jockey box and dumped out my wallet. And of course, there weren’t any machines that worked to convert dollar bills to quarters because in my search for change I had found two crisp dollar bills. Looking across the laundromat at the woman with a ziploc bag full of quarters, I decided to beg.

I offered to trade her a dollar bill for one quarter, thinking she’d jump on the opportunity. At this point, I would have gladly traded a $5 if I had one.

She might have gone for it if she could have spoken a word of English.

Through hand motions and, quiet possibly the look of sheer desperation on my face, she handed me four quarters. I think she may have been a bit frightened of the deranged woman who kept saying “I just need one quarter, please!” While frantically waving around a dollar bill.

She went and sat outside in her car while her clothes ran through their cycle. If I didn’t know better, I would think she was perhaps hiding out from me.

Once the laundry was done and loaded in my car, I ran back over and tried to give her the second dollar bill.

With a “thank you so much for the quarter,” I handed it to her. Finally she accepted looking somewhat unsure, but not quite as frightened, as she gave me a tremulous smile.

I don’t think she has any idea how much that quarter she let me have meant to me. But I hope that little smile means she might have an idea. And that she isn’t completely terrified of me.

She Who Terrifies Women and Children at the Laundromat

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