Because the lady at the Laundromat knows everything. She plays connect the dots with the stains on your clothes. She sees those things that you would never show anybody else. She never judges, at least not out loud. She pretends she doesn’t notice, or she just pretends that it’s normal, nothing to be startled by. She smiles, clothes all folded nicely and tight in a plastic bag. She knows what you did last night, what you’ll do tonight, and how the clothes you’re wearing right now will look next week. Be nice to her because she’s with you all the time, every moment knowing what’s happening. She can smell you and all your debauchery. She might stick her head inside the washer in the middle of the spin cycle and compare that fragrance with the atavistic aromas of your clothes in the bundle you brought in before she rinsed it out.

Now it’s rainbows and waterfalls and perhaps she sticks her head inside the bag to smell a week of madness, sad that your clothes are now fresh, perfumed. She smiles when she sees you; loyal like a familiar neighborhood dog that recognizes your body odor before you turn the corner. A corpse smells better than your dirty laundry bag sometimes, but that dog likes the nastiest things, sleeps in things you would never imagine, places you’ve never been. But you’ve been elsewhere, strange places, stains complacent that not even warm water and three days of scrubbing in the sink will wash away.

The current cycle spins and spins while she smiles a benevolent clairvoyant grin, looks forward to another week or two, all the while looking back over her shoulder, the bouquet of the past dancing in her nostrils, the hairs in her nose interwoven with the aroma of your empty dirty laundry bag, her head inside, one whiff away from suffocation.

Matthew Dexter lives and breathes in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. An expatriate author and poet best known for eating shrimp tacos and drinking enough Pacifico to kill six blue marlins, he’s the Lil Wayne of literature.



  1. Marcus Speh says:

    yes to this. a strange creation, this lady, a hitherto unknown archetype. makes me want to get rid of our own washing machine and walk down to the laundromat. thanks!

  2. […] of My Life, Dinner for Two, Going for Gold, Mouse Trap, and more.                  https://aminormagazine.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/why-you-should-be-nice-to-the-lady-at-the-laundromat/      (Why You Should Be Nice to the Lady at the Laundromat, August 2010)   […]

  3. I like the rich portrait here. She is a quirky one, that lady. I can just smell the smells too — such vivid detail here. It’s funny and also a touch melancholy, to me.

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