To most people, I’m a bit rugged. My settings are basic. I offer simple instructions, so you don’t get overwhelmed by temperatures or forget to close the door. I take the worst of it and make it better, without complaining, just a signal that what was dirty here is clean again, and I’m ready for whoever’s next. Trust me with your stories; I won’t judge your stains.
April looked me in the drum for a moment before dropping in cotton boxers with chili peppers on them. I could tell immediately that they belonged to a teenager. She spent a few hours with me. Her clothes were as cold as I am when I’m not being of use, like maybe they are kept in a car instead of drawers or closets. They were filled with the stains of a high school cafeteria, the dirt of an old dog, days of getting up and getting through, a hint of gasoline and the grease of available foods.
Her dog leaned into me for support as he lay on the ground. She folded blankets over him and stacked thinning cotton pajama pants on top of me while I spun her t-shirts. She was patient and never complained, but sometimes sighed and leaned against me, like her pup, when there was a moment to rest before carrying on. I could tell by how long she needed to stay, that she wouldn’t be back for a while.
She was grateful, because I felt the vibration of her repeating “Thank you,” every time a volunteer handed her four quarters, which she gave to me; they were warm from passing from one person’s pocket to another’s palm.
I don’t know what it’s like to not belong to a place. I’m always here. Someone turns the lights on and off. The water running through me is clean. There’s always soap. I’m warm when I need to be warm and cool when I need to be cool. People are nice to me. Is it the same for you?
Please educate yourself about homelessness in your area, so you can make a difference. It can be as small and as big as knowing what resources are available and not being afraid to ask someone’s story, instead of assuming it.
Social Spin Laundromat – Central Phoenix provides free wash & dry services every Wednesday, from 9:00 am – noon. The first 8 people are served, thanks to our friends at Arizona Friends of Homeless. If you’re interested in sponsoring a load or two for our laundromat customers, please contact Social Spin, Inc. Founder & Owner Christy Moore.
M.D. Leto lives near the Lower Salt River with a rescue dog named Charlie, four chickens, her wife and several experimental gardens. She holds an MFA from Northern Arizona University and writes narratives to change the world. She is a frequent contributor to the Javelina Co blog and is sometimes invited to read her poetry and essays in public spaces.