Just Thump Me Upside the Head, Dad
After my Dad died, my two older sisters found pennies in the most unlikely spots as they went about their daily lives. They were convinced the oddly placed pennies were messages from our Dad, telling them he was thinking of them and was in a good place, pennies from Heaven, if you will. I never saw any and was pretty despondent about the whole thing. Then Tory’s summer softball season arrived and caught up in the excitement of her games, thoughts about pennies from my Dad receded.
One tournament weekend Tory’s team was playing in the hinterlands of Pennsylvania, not so very far from where our Dad was born. After the games on Saturday, I collected the girls’ dirty uniforms and headed to the hotel laundry room to Shout out the stains in my official capacity as Team Mom, while my friend Robyn, the other Team Mom, kept an eye on the girls in the pool.
I entered the small laundry room using my room key, and as I walked in, another woman was transferring her wet laundry into a dryer. We nodded politely to each other as she finished putting her quarters in the machine and the dryer started up. Taking a chair close to the door she began to watch the small television mounted high on the wall. Humming to myself, I separated the filthy socks from the equally filthy shorts, sprayed them all down with Shout, then separated the dark uniforms from the sports bras and the like. When I was done I had two washing machines full of yukky clothes.
Someone knocked at the laundry room door, glancing at the woman who was immersed in a show on the TV, I walked over, looked out the door’s little security window, saw Robyn and opened the door.
“Hey. How’s everything going?” she asked, poking her head in the door and looking around the long, narrow room.
“Just fine. I’m going to put the quarters in, start the machines and watch television while they run through the cycle.”
“Okay,” she said. “Do you need anything? Quarters?”
“No, thanks,” I replied patting my back pocket. “I’m pretty sure I have enough change in my pocket.”
With that Robyn left and the door shut firmly behind her. Walking back down to the washing machines at the far end of the room, I began digging for the quarters in my pocket. . . and came up 3 quarters short of what I needed. “Rats,” I thought, wrinkling my forehead, trying to remember where I’d left the rest of the change. Practically smacking myself on the forehead, I remembered the pile sitting on the nightstand in my room.
Turning to the other woman with the five quarters still clutched in my hand, I held out a wrinkled dollar I had pulled out of my pocket and asked, “By any chance do you have change for a dollar? I don’t have enough change after all.”
Shaking her head regretfully from her seat she replied, “No, I’m just about finished here and I’ve used all my quarters. Sorry.”
Hoping to catch Robyn before she was too far away, I opened the door to the laundry room, leaned out and shouted down the hallway, “Robyn, I do need some quarters after all. Do you have any?”
Spinning around, Robyn headed back to where I stood in the doorway. Fishing in her pocket she brought out four quarters and I traded her for the wrinkled dollar bill. “Thanks a lot, sweetie” I said. Sorry to be such a ditz.”
Smiling she just waved me off.
As the door closed I walked back over to the two machines. Fumbling a little I stacked the quarters in my left hand then reached out with my right to load them into the little slots. “That’s funny, I thought to myself. as I saw the eight shiny, bright quarters that filled each and every slot on both of the machines.
Turning around with a smile, I said to the woman watching television, “Thank you so much for putting the quarters in the machine for me.”
Looking up from her spot near the door she replied, “I didn’t put any quarters in the machines. I don’t have anymore, like I already told you.”
“But, but here are eight quarters lined up in the slots, four in each machine,” I said.
The woman got up, walked over to the machines and peered at the neatly aligned quarters in their holes, looked me in the eyes and said, “I told you, I don’t have any quarters and I certainly didn’t put them in the machines.” With that she resumed her seat.
Really puzzled by now, I started the wash cycle on the machines, walked back and sat in a chair next to the woman near the door. My mind was racing as I tried to figure out what just happened. I opened my mouth to speak, then I closed my mouth because I didn’t know what I was going to say.
Thinking hard, I sat a few more seconds, then opened my mouth to speak. Looking straight ahead I asked, “So while I was talking with my friend at the door, you didn’t get up, walk over and put the quarters in the machine?”
“No. No, I did not,” the woman responded, by now having abandoned all pretenses of watching television and staring straight ahead herself.
“Well, how did the quarters get there then?” I asked logically.
She didn’t reply as she got up and walked over to the dryer that had just sounded its buzzer; the cycle were complete. She took her clothes out, folded them, and turned to leave. As she reached out her hand to open the door, she paused and said, “That was the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen.”