Still waiting for our washer and dryer to bless our new place, I sat and watched my laundry spin around and around in the laundromat dryer. I looked at my surroundings and noticed a few people either staring into their phones or reading magazines. I let out a big sigh and went back to watching my boxer shorts spin in circles. Suddenly, a well-dressed man walked in with his hands full of white clothes.
“C’mon…let’s go…we have to do get this done.” The man had an accent. He told two men who came in with him to get some change for the machines. He looked in my direction and set down his clothes. He looked at the washers and stared at them like they were some machines from the future.
“How do I use this thing?” He said to me.
Surprised, I said, “Oh, just put your clothes in…pick a temp you want for your white coats…and put some change in.”
He laughed, “I have never used one of these before.”
“Really? I lived in these kinds of places during my first years of college….it hasn’t changed, well, there aren’t as many drunk people in this one like the laundromat I used to use at State. And we don’t have to worry about anyone stealing underwear. That was probably a drunk guy too.”
He looked perplexed, “Why would anyone want to steal underwear? Why not keep the underwear that they have on?”
I was tempted to tell him…but I decided to change the subject instead.
“So washing a bunch of white coats….have a bunch of naked scientists waiting in a van or something?”
“No, I own this restaurant.” He pulled out a magazine and showed me the picture of a brand new Japanese Steakhouse.
“My laundry service is crap…so I fired him and had to wash all this myself. I have never done this before…my mother took care of all of this when we lived in Turkey.”
He went on to tell me about how he came to America in search of the American dream…and his two boys. He talked about how he worked 18 hours a day to make sure he could provide for these boys and his wife.
We only talked for 15 minutes…but he was chock full of knowledge.
“Dan…Dan…you have one kid? Don’t get another one…it is hell man. Pure hell. I mean I love my two kids…but they give me hell everyday.”
I laughed, “That’s hilarious man.”
His dryer buzzer went off.
“I’m done right? What does that mean? Put more money?”
“No, you are done man…you can go. It was nice talking to you man. Good luck with the business.”
He grabs my hand and looks me in the eyes, “Dan, I want to see you again. Thank you for teaching how to use these machines..for this life lesson. Come bring your family to the restaurant ok?”
He lets go and gives me a wink.
I sit there and start to fold my clothes. He left the magazine on the counter. I grab it.
“Hmm…life lesson. He wants to see me again? And a wink? Does that mean if I go there, I will get free sushi? Free food? I mean, a wink can mean different things. You don’t just wink for nothing, well, unless you have something in your eye. But, that was definitely a wink.”
I get home and tell my wife about the man who knew nothing about laundry.
“Do you think if we go? He will give us free food? We should go see him right?”
She laughed, “Well, I don’t know if we would get free food, but we should go soon before he forgets you.”
“What? Forget me? Hello, I taught him a life lesson..ok. Without me, he would probably be sitting there waiting…mixing in all his clothes with other colors…putting in too much detergent…and then the laundromat floods…and then he owes the laundromat owner all this money…and then he can’t afford to keep his restaurant open because of all that money he spent for flooding the laundromat. So, I saved his restaurant today. He owes me some free food..because I basically kept his business open. He will tell his boys about how he learned how to do laundry. He will say, ‘this handsome asian man taught me how to do laundry…and now I will pass this knowledge down to you. He saved our american dreams…and did I mention he was handsome. And he looked tall…but he was definitely handsome.'”
My wife had already left the room, so I was talking to myself.
I call the man at his restaurant and set up reservations.
“Hey John, it’s me Dan. Yeah, the laundry guy. We want to try your place…we will be there 5:30.”
The day comes…and we go to the restaurant. John sees me and shakes my hand…but there was no wink. My free sushi dreams started to fade away.
We sit down at the steakhouse and the chef comes to cook our food in front of us. My little one is amazed and all the knife work and fire involved in this meal. The chef makes some fried rice and looks at me.”
“Hey…hey..open your mouth..catch this chicken.” And chicken flies through the air and lands in my mouth. I feet like a seal at a water park being rewarded for jumping through a hula hoop.
He looks at my wife…”you’re turn.” Food flies and misses….he tries again…and misses….rice explodes off my wife’s face and she starts to laugh uncontrollably. My daughter was loving this place.
John checks on me. “You having a good time? Food good?”
“Oh yeah…it’s awesome man…thanks for inviting us.”
The bill comes…and there was no free food. But, I was not disappointed. Seeing food explode off my wife’s face and hearing my daughter laugh all night was priceless. Money can’t buy experiences like that.