Whew! It took two trips to my car to get both heavy laundry baskets into the Laundromat. I was after the biggest washing machine…the 55lb. one. While I waited by it so the attendant could get somebody’s wet laundry out of it, I secured a nice spot at the table near the machine so I could read my book while I waited for the wash, when I actually got to do it. While the attendant helped an elderly customer put quarters into her machine, I got my stack of coins ready, my book out and smiled at the generous sunshine coming in the window by my chair.
When my machine was empty, I put all my wash into the one machine, loaded up the soap and money, and sat with my book, ready to have a relaxing wait. “Hey, mind if I sit with you?” The elderly lady with the quarter trouble sat right next to me. Of course I didn’t mind if she wanted a seat. She didn’t just want to sit, she was fully loaded with conversation. Without expecting me to do more than pay full attention to her, my table company told me a lot.
In a short amount of time, I knew how much it cost to do her laundry today, in the summer and comparatively, in the winter. I heard that Canadian quarters don’t fit in the machines, that her husband wanted fish for dinner, and dozens of other facts. I was beginning to struggle with the barrage, while my book and quiet both retreated. My plan, after all, had been to sit in peace, and I was being honest with myself that I was not feeling engaged with conversing with her. But then the Lord encouraged me to make with effort.
I gave her a bright magazine to enjoy, that was on the table, and she talked about the pictures. Then, suddenly, she knocked over her can of Pepsi on the table and I was fully engaged! Whoa. I ran and got a towel to wipe it up before all the stuff on the table was wet and sticky. I put my book in my purse, and faced my table companion and started to ask her questions about her life. I could feel the Lord smiling, “listen with your heart,” so I did better.
Time went fast, the laundry was done and I packed up to go home. My acquaintance was gone for the moment. I left, thinking about that time in the Laundromat. I learned a lot today: that Laundromats are community places with people who get to know each other, that you don’t just wash clothes, you help people, and that Jesus likes to be there.