When I was a teenager, one of my assigned chores was doing laundry every week. Our apartment building didn't have a washer and dryer for the tenants, so I had to lug it down to the laundromat. My mom had one of those hand carts that we used both to drag laundry to the laundromat and to bring groceries home from the store.
So I loaded myself up with the big laundry bag, and off I went to the laundromat every week without fail. I usually brought homework with me to keep me busy. Doing laundry really wasn't so bad, especially considering that a laundromat lets you do more than one load at a time.
Of course, a laundromat is an excellent place to meet all kinds of people. Just like anywhere, some people are cool, and some people just give you funny stories for later. The one I remember best completely weirded me out when it happened, but not in a creepy way.
I remember I had plans to meet my sister later that day. In fact, I think she actually came and met me at the laundromat because laundry took longer than expected. But before she got there, some random guy walking down the street came in first.
I was in the laundromat by myself, with two or three loads going in the machines at once. It was summer, so I was dressed comfortably in shorts and a T-shirt, and I had a big textbook on my lap and a notebook balanced on my knee. I was obviously busy with my work.
From what I remember this guy didn't even have any laundry. He came up to me and started talking, so I politely pulled my headphones out of my ears so I could hear him. I totally expected that he was going to ask me for change.
What came next was a big surprise.
"Do you think anyone can have peace if they don't live in the Pacific?" he asked earnestly.
Whatever I had been expecting, it wasn't that. I was momentarily flabbergasted.
Lucky for me, that wasn't all he wanted to say. He went on, at length, for probably the next 10 minutes about his theories that peace could only truly be obtained if you lived in the Pacific. Weird, sure, but basically harmless. The only thing that bothered me was that he also insisted on getting closer as he talked.
I don't like close talkers at the best of times, even if I know the person. I REALLY don't like them if they're complete strangers.
Still, even though this guy was clearly not all there, for some reason I didn't want to be rude. I probably would already have left if all my laundry wasn't in the machines, so I felt like it was in my best interest to let the guy talk, since he wasn't actually threatening.
Then my laundry beeped, and I told him I needed to take care of it. He moved aside and out of my path, and I grabbed the dry laundry and shoved it in my bag. I didn't stop to fold it.
Just then, my sister walked in. I greeted her and told her she was just in time to help me lug the laundry home. I moved more quickly than I would previously have thought possible to get my cart full of laundry and my schoolbooks and scoot my sister out the door before the guy could start talking to her, too.
We were close, my sister and I. So we could read each other's signals pretty well. She knew something was up, but went along with what I tried to do. We walked the block and a half or so to my apartment very quickly. When I told her about the guy's philosophical meanderings, we both laughed hysterically as we folded the laundry.