Thoughts on laundry day.
“Mitzi, wake up.”
“Come on, Ma, let me sleep.” I’m already annoyed.My cozy bed doesn’t want to let me go. But wait a minute, the buttery, salty, and savory smell of bacon, egg, and cheese travels across my room and I just can’t wait to taste it. I feel the food already in my mouth.
“Mitzi, go to the laundromat, and buy me a phone card.”She made me eat so fast, I’m stuffed. Still that breakfast was banging.Suddenly, I hear the grumpy old Colombian lady yelling at the garbage man for no reason. She thinks I stalk her. Seriously. She gets me so frustrated.The Clorox is nowhere to be found. Doing the laundry pisses me off because I have to wash my sister’s and my mom’s clothes and mine.“Don’t forget about the phone card,” Mama screams as if I’m deaf.The elevator is not working again. This blue cart is too heavy; I have to bump it down the stairs. I try to be calm, but the cart is almost the same height as me. I feel like I’m dragging my sister.As I pull the door, I see the super with his marine blue shirt and those circular glasses he’s always wearing. He’s sweeping up. With his husky voice, he greets in Spanish.
“Buenos dias.” I smile and keep pulling the cart out the door.I see those bald Chinese men again. I turned around and the old Chinese ladies are coming outside, holding big cans of rice and meat, and wearing those hideous polka-dot pajamas. I wonder if they are lining up to get food. They must be homeless or maybe they are relatives. Look at how they smile at each other. Wow, that’s amazing. I wonder to myself if they do that in China. That’s generous of them. No one else gives out food in Jackson Heights.
It’s windy today. I am trying to roll this cart and it got stuck. How I hate this bumpy street. I have four more blocks to walk. I wonder if this cart’s going to get stuck again. I hope not—it’s embarrassing. Everybody’s going to stare at me and make fun of me.
I hope there are no people at the Laundromat, especially those nosy and loud Indian women. They’re always there gossiping about everything. Surprise, four of them are here wearing those fancy, glittering dresses. They won’t stop talking. Nice, now I have to listen to them. Why are they laughing and looking at me? They must be talking about me. I shake my head and try to ignore them, which is easy since they speak another language I don’t even understand. Still, they give me a headache.
Great, my mom didn’t give me any money for the laundry. I have to use mine. These quarter machines better be working.
This is taking forever. Finally, forty-five minutes later I fold my clothes and my sister’s, and my mom’s. Why did my sister stay home? She should be here helping me with the laundry. Damn, she’s so lazy.
I grab the cart and head back home. WAIT! My mom’s phone card. There are two grocery stores; on the left and the right. Which one should I go to? Umm, on the right corner, the owner is from Poland. He’s a really nice man. He always smiles at me when I go, but he barely understands me. On the left, the owner is Dominican. Every time I go there, he gives me this mean, dirty look, and it makes me feel uncomfortable. But he understands my language. I’ll go with the nice Polish man.
My mom never told me what phone card she wanted. Which one should I get? There are so many. Should I get her the $2, the $5, or the $10 one? It’s my money; I’ll buy her the $2 one.
I’m thirsty, and I need something to wake me up. I should buy me something. Perhaps a little treat, a Monster drink; I love those drinks.
I’m done with the laundry. You know what? I’m going to sit on that old concrete bench and enjoy my drink.
Look who’s there. My sister came to help me pull the cart. She brought me an orange juice. Maybe she’s not so bad after all.
Mitzi Sanchez is a class of 2011 mentee alum from Queens, NY.