Laundry Rebel: A Glimpse into My Psyche
One afternoon in culinary school I was having a conversation with Jolene, one of the school’s employees. We were cleaning up after lunch and chatting about random topics. After a while the subject of laundry came up. She said, “My daughter did laundry the other day and washed socks and towels — together!”
She said this in a way that made me think I should be shocked. I was young and not thoroughly schooled in the ways of laundry, so I asked her, “What’s wrong with washing socks and towels together?”
She stared at me for a couple seconds like I was an idiot, and then said, “Everyone knows you shouldn’t wash socks with towels.”
I was trying to come up with a reasonable explanation for why these two items could not coexist in the same load of laundry. Were the fabrics incompatible when mixed with water and detergent? Would it cause an adverse chemical reaction? I couldn’t come up with a logical explanation, so I asked, “But why?”
I watched her struggle with this question for a second when she gave me a dismissive, “It’s just gross,” grabbed some dirty pans, and walked out of the kitchen.
“It’s just gross?” That’s the reason? Why was it gross? Was I in some sort of danger of getting athlete’s foot on my face? It all seemed so ridiculous.
This was over 25 years ago, but her answer for the sock/towel combination being “just gross” was so lame that it has stuck with me since that day. Now when I am washing a load of towels I will dig through the dirty laundry to find as many socks as possible. That’s right; I am still spiting a woman whom I haven’t seen nor talked to in 25+ years.
Welcome to my mind — enjoy the view.
That Was NOT Pie!
The restrooms were in the south west corner, and way over in the north east corner, as far away from the restrooms as possible, was where Jennifer*, the hostess, sat a family of eight. In this family was an elderly man, who I will refer to as “the gentleman.” To be honest, I have never met the gentleman; I have never even seen the gentleman, but the memory of the gentleman has been with me for years.
I had just finished helping the cook with the dinner rush and was going out to help the servers clear their tables. As I came around the corner from the kitchen I noticed four waitresses worked up about something. They were huddled real close and whispering. Normally I would have tried to find out what was going on, but I wanted to check the front of the restaurant to see if everything was caught up.
I was walking briskly through the dining area when I was sidetracked by something looked out of place. On the floor, I saw what looked like a piece of chocolate cream pie that had either been rolled on the floor or had been dropped while someone was walking really fast. I found myself bent over, staring, at this brown mass. Just as my brain registered that this was NOT pie, one of the diners spoke up and said, “Yeah, it’s what you think it is.”
I crouched there for a moment in disbelief.
I started to think, “Who I could get to clean this up?” Amy! I went into the kitchen and said, “Amy, someone made a mess in your section, and you need to clean …”
She cut me off with an assertive, “Oh, No! I am NOT cleaning that up!”
Then I thought, “The Dishwasher!” I walked back to the dish-room and said, “Hey, Mark.” Before I could utter another syllable, Mark looked me in the eye and said, “Dude, I’ll quit first.”
The news was out. After that I couldn’t find another employee – anywhere.
With a restaurant full of people, I knew that I just couldn’t leave it there, so I went and got a pair of rubber gloves, a dustpan, and an old, tattered menu to scoop up the mess. Then I stifled the gag reflex while I used a wet rag to clean the carpet. I then attempted to cover the smell with some citrus scented cleaner.
When I had finished, I went in the back to wash my hands, feeling relieved that it was over. That feeling, however, was short lived. Jennifer came back from doing a restroom check and relayed information that indicated what I had just cleaned was just the tip of the iceberg.
I walked into the men’s room and my jaw would have dropped, had it not been for the wall of stink that hit me when I opened the door. It looked like someone had taken a #10 can of hot fudge, poured it on the floor - and skated around in it.
I’d had enough. I put up the “restroom closed” sign, brought in the hot-water hose from the dish room, and sprayed the restroom down with hot water. When it was clean, but wet, I had the dishwasher come in and start mopping up and change out all the paper products.
A few minutes later he came back to find me. He had something to show me. Apparently the gentleman had left through the side door of the restaurant – without his underwear, nor pants. They were both in the trash.
I learned some things that night. I learned that sometimes I have to do the thing that no one else will do. I learned that I would rather clean up a disgusting mess, than clean up a disgusting mess and wash dishes. I also learned that a half-naked man can leave a busy restaurant without anyone noticing.