Thursday, October 02, 2008

Humility and Demographics at the Laundromat

It has been years since I went to wash clothes at a laundromat. Years! The experience was well worth the time spent this past Sunday morning at Spin Cycle Coin Laundry. I was able to put at least 4 loads of clothes in one machine. It cost me a gallon of gas ($4.25) – but having the ability and option to get four loads done in one washing was pleasing. And, no, the clothes were not mixed colors: whites with darks. It was a dark load. My days of washing clothes like a college student are over!

Speaking of “over”, when will this gas crisis in Georgia completely run its course? As I typed this journal entry I noticed that the gas line down at Kroger’s gas station was popping. Cars were everywhere. Some were idled. Others were being pushed. Running out of gas while in a quarter mile long line trying to get gas is… Well, I am not sure how to characterize that. However, that might be me in a few days.

As I sat there reminiscing about my Saturday mornings at Winston Street laundromat in Thomasville, North Carolina, I noticed that there is a Washington Mutual across the street. Didn’t I read a report that they were ‘going under’? Acquired by JPMorgan Chase? Yes, that’s the bank that prided itself on serving the community. Their intentions for years have been to be the opposite of the locally-based/ big monster banks e.g. Chevy Chase Bank. WaMu actually tried to be there for the average brother and sister. Somewhat like credit unions and unlike those Wall Street crooks.

Back to my experience at Spin Cycle. This is what I witnessed:

*A rude Korean man owns and manages the facility. He can barely speak English – but yet he selects to bark instructions in his limited English. America, the Melting Pot. How about learning to speak some ENGLISH!

*A black mother trying her best to teach her teenage daughter how to wash and fold clothes the RIGHT way. Surprisingly, the teenager was receptive, listening, and learning. There is hope for our children!

*A yuppie looking white man wearing tennis shorts and a Polo shirt looking lost and scared as h*ll. I guess me and the other brother were too much for him: Big and Black!

*A pack of South Americans speaking Guarani loudly. Having no regard for the homeless man who was trying to sleep before the Korean owner noticed him and his Army camouflage bag. He was probably one of America’s unappreciated veterans!

*An African brother who wanted to say hello – but was hesitant to greet me. I wonder why? He was washing his blues, whites, reds, and yellows all together. He knows better than that. Done got to America and abandoned his village up-bringing!

*A grey beard black man riding a bicycle with a six year old on the handlebars. No joke! Guess he did not have any gas. He needs a damn car seat on that bike though!

And, then there was me. A tall dark skin man on a laptop sizing everybody up. Using them for my next annotation. They had no clue I was eavesdropping and staring. They also were unaware that I was relishing in how peaceful and relaxed I felt. How I appreciated having to conduct a chore with them. It was a moment that took me back to my simple days in Dominica (picture attached). It was my moment of humility. But, after time passed all I could think about were those impatient people waiting in their vehicles for gas. The frustration and anger that was displayed was amazing. If there wasn’t someone rudely blowing their horn there was someone yelling, “I was here first!” Sounds like something a kid would say. Right?

These people were grown-ups. Adults behaving like children. Somewhat similar to the way our elected officials behaved last week: ‘No, this bailout plan will work. ‘No, this one will work.’ While these men and women argued over how much money we (tax payers) would have to pay back, some of us have decided to embody the Capitol Hill juvenile antics. I assume running low on gas changes people?

America is not only tinkering on total collapse, it is suddenly and predictably showing its true identity. We, the people, are spoiled, intolerant, and hasty. Accustomed to having it easy. How many of us would be willing or even able to wash clothes like the women in the picture?

We fail to realize that waiting in long lines for gas or for any basic necessity is a regular occurrence in some of the countries that we have the disrespectful audacity to label, Third World. Most Americans with their pompous demeanor can’t conceptualize that we are moving toward what we have labeled as 3rd World. Hondurans, El Salvadorans, Haitians, Rwandans, and many more ‘foreign’ people are sitting back waiting. Waiting on America to respond like a true world leader – but we are proving to them that our strength is hiding behind our bogus sense of security and vainglorious confidence.

At the least we should be able to wait in a line without cursing the traffic attendant. Nope, not too many of us can. When I completed this narrative I thought about if I could have endured 60-90 minutes of waiting to touch a dirty gas pump handle. After a serious self analysis I concluded that I am NOT mentally ready to go get gas.

Written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by wishing I would have never left Dominica.


Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

sounds like u work for the CIA lol

and a week the gas crunch will be over i hope
have a great weekend

Muata said...

Reader Response:

I was just telling someone the other day how we are way to overstressed in this country. I remember being in Africa - and just taking it easy. No one stressed over why a meeting started late. We rushed no where. We didn't blow the horn on the car, telling another car to speed up. And when there was no gas (they experienced a shortage when I was there), people just walked! Some may argue that that is why they are so behind. But really and honestly - what is better? It seems as a nation we have become very arrogant and self-centered. Sometimes I too long for the days of simplicity. Now, let me rush on to my next meeting! God Bless America.


Muata said...

Muata Responds to MJ:

I knew a fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer would understand me!


Muata said...

Reader Response:

Enjoyable read. Funny, touching and oh so meaningful!


Muata said...

Reader Response:

Very thoughtful analysis. Someone posited recently, will this mean the end of America as we know it. The immediate response that entered my mind was that I hope so, especially since America, as it stands, has only meant destruction and disillusionment for our people. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading your e-mail perspectives, considering I don't get to read as many blogs as I used to.


FREEDOM said...

I recently went to movies and saw the motion picture "Miracle at Santa Ana". There was one soldier that reflected on how he felt so FREE in Italy. And how he kinda felt bad because he could not get that same FREEDOM feeling in a country that he was risking his LIFE for. I feel yA on this post.

Excellent piece!

Muata said...

Muata Responds to Freedom:

Thank you, Freedom. I need to go see that movie.

For me when I traveled throughout Europe, Central Asia, South America, and the Eastern Caribbean I was amazed by the respect that was rendered to me. There was a lot of curiousity - but what stuck out the most was how welcomed and at-home I felt. I long for those days. I miss living overseas. It is definitely a different experience for black men.


Muata said...

Reader Response:

You are crazy. Now THAT was pretty entertaining to read Sir Brian!


Muata said...

Reader Response:

Great piece! I found this extremely interesting.


Muata said...

Muata Responds to YW:

Thank you.

If you don't mind me asking, what made it interesting for you?


Muata said...

Reader YW responds to Muata:

I don't mind you asking at all. First of all I found your storytelling interesting. It brought me back to when I used to wash clothes at the laundromat back in Brooklyn, NY. I still find it amazing that a lot of us had the same experiences growing up no matter where we lived. Most of our lifestyles are universal. Also while I was reading I felt like I was at the laundromat with you observing these people. Second, the WaMu comment. They claimed to be different than the other banks and sd that really took the time to serve the community but come to find out that they were heavily involved in the predatory lending and that lead to their demise (sort of). All of these companies seem to be a bunch of hypocrites! Third, how much a melting pot the laundromat is. There were several walks of life there and the common ground happens to be the laundromat. Again, I look at that as we are more a like than we want to claim that we are. The laundromat is a simple example but at the same time I look at it being very profound. Lastly, I agree w/you that Americans are spoiled, greedy and think they are invincible and that mentality has lead us to this mess that the country is in now.


Muata said...

Muata responds to YW:

I just believe people forget their beginnings. Even when one is born
with all the material necessities and even with a nuclear family, one still comes into to this world (was born) with nothing. We were naked in every sense of the word. We were a blank canvas. This is what we have in common for sure. Where we begin to become different is through life experiences. Our parents and then our own that we create. The laundromat reminds me of the time we so often fail to go back to: The Alpha. We are so busy trying to get to The Omega while at times destroying the peace that we have within our reach. Peace is where I am at when I go to the laundromat simply because I am humbled there. Reminded of what it use to be like. Lord, how I long for more experiences of PEACE. Thank you. Thank you for allowing me to preach. LOL.


Muata said...

YW responds to Muata:

Not a problem, I enjoyed your sermon because it took my thoughts someplace else. So thank you too!


rebecca said...

The Star

Twinkle, twinkle, little star!

How I wonder what you are,

Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky.


When the blazing sun is gone,

When he nothing shines upon,

Then you show your little light,

Twinkle, twinkle all the night.

The dark blue sky you keep

And often thro' my curtains peep,

For you never shut your eye

Till the sun is in the sky.


'Tis your bright and tiny spark

Lights the traveler in the dark;

Though I know not what you are

Twinkle, twinkle, little star!

-----by runescape power leveling

Muata said...

Reader Response:

This writing was great! Lol, the brotha man with the child on handlebars out of order.