All Kinds in Laguna
I lived in Laguna Beach, California in the 1980's. My husband and I lived near some obnoxiously wealthy home owners. We sat in cafes besides local artists and musicians and we shared the beach with bronzed surfer kids and groups of transient youth kicking their hacky sacks. It seemed like all of these people rich or poor ended up at the Laundromat.
My Weekly Trip to do Laundry
There was always lots of activity at the Laundromat. You could watch a man hunting through the trash for food, while listening to a nearby conversation about an African safari. If you were really lucky you might catch a glimpse of "The Skipper" if he got off his usual route along the Coast Highway. This was not a man of the sea. He was a man who liked to skip.
I preferred observing to interacting.
I liked observing all the characters, but I wasn't always eager to converse. I kept myself busy or absorbed in a book, so rarely did I chat. I do remember one day sharing a bench with a somewhat energetic man with dirty clothes and long stringy hair. He munched on cheese puffs for a while, then disappeared and returned with a pint of ice cream. He greeted me with glassy eyes as I loaded my washer and asked if I wanted some ice cream. I answered no thanks and tried to ignore his swaying presence. He got my attention again when he bent his knees as if practicing a comical bow, then in a slow motion sweep, he gently kicked my tennis shoe with his foot. I stopped and gave him a somewhat irritated look. He grinned back and said softly, "Knock on wood."
Thanks for this odd memory, Laundry Man. Even though you were a little creepy as you invaded my space, you did offer to share your food. And whether you were mentally ill, high, drunk or just lacking in social skills, you took your cue and there was no further pestering and no big scene. You reminded me that we share this world and our Laundromats with all kinds of people. We don't have to be chummy with everyone we see, but we need to show a little respect. I respect you for letting me get back to my book.
To celebrate my birthday in April 2012, I decided to reflect on the past with a different kind of list. I've met a lot of people in my 55 years, but I'm going to stop and remind myself about the strangers I've met. These are people I met by accident, not through friends or work. For some reason, these strangers dropped into my life. Even though we may have only spent a few minutes together, these people have never been forgotten.
Each week, I'll spotlight someone I met in the past, who in some small way, made me stop and think.
Remember 55 Strangers