Every so often I encounter a complete stranger that is so unnecessarily inconsiderate they catapult to frontrunner status for the Unbearable Dense-ness of Being Award. This has happened to me twice this week and so I have two nominees. The incidents occurred at two reliable sources of combat pay in an average New Yorker’s daily life – the subway and the laundromat.
On my way into work at rush hour, I boarded a crowded 2 Express train at the 72nd Street subway station heading downtown. Using my Elastigirl skills, I elongated my being into a slot of space the width of a pencil next to a lean businessman. Between the two of us, we easily allowed four more passengers entry including Drizella the Hair Whipper who parked herself next to me. Initially I did not even notice her, but once the train pulled out of the station and began to pick up speed, Drizella started twirling her ponytail in a circular motion, oblivious that it was continually hitting me in the face. I think the obvious:
Me (thinking): Huh, my new low beaten with hair.
I bellow aloud:
Me (bellowing aloud): Give the hair twirling a rest. You’re hitting me in the face!
Drizella stops and looks at me with this expression:
Earlier in the week on an evening that was warm with a nice breeze, perfect weather to be sitting outdoors sipping a cold beverage with any member of my posse, I instead chose to do laundry since I was fast approaching the underwear-I’ve-yet-to-ditch-but-if-I-were-caught-dead-wearing-it-my-corpse-would-be-mortified phase. This is underwear I would not even photograph for this site for fear that would be the one image from this blog that goes viral.
As I was waiting for my wash to finish, I wheeled over a cart that looks identical to the one pictured below.
A woman in my own over-forty-under-death age group, mumbles something incoherent, and makes a point of taking that cart and placing it in front of her own washer that will finish several minutes after mine. I have a moment of, “Huh?” I don’t ask questions since this is New York, Loon Capital of America. As I go to take another cart since there are several to choose from, she gives me the stink eye as if I deliberately took the cart that must have sentimental meaning to her.
She elaborately lines it with a white plastic bag, further staking her cart-turf.
My wash finishes and as I load my wet clothes into my new cart, I wonder if she is also going to flash her crazy at me in the direction of the dryer I select even though there are several available? Normally, I unload the washer and load the dryer at warp speed, and return home until five minutes before my dryer finishes. As I ponder this next potential confrontation with a dryer, I move so slowly I give the impression that I’m doing Tai Chi, so I look like my own brand of oddball. The dryer I choose does not set her off, but then I have an even more dreadful thought. Will she open m y dryer once I leave and pull something out such as a sock? If I were to enter her abode, would I discover mountains of lost socks belonging to laundromat patrons she’s targeted?
Me (thinking): Am I in the presence of the Missing Sock She-devil?
If so, how inconvenient for I do need to return home to retrieve my laundry bag. I am now loading my dryer Tai Chi-style, but I’m also waiting for her wash to finish. When it does, I notice that she doesn’t use the plastic bag lined cart she took away from me. She removes her wet clothes by hand and carries them to a dryer.
The music from The Twilight Zone plays on the iPod in my head.
Then, a miracle happens. She leaves! The combination of my intuition and infinite paranoia suspects her departure could be brief. Even though she has timed her dryer for almost half an hour, I sense she is going to return much sooner. I race home, grab this week’s issue of The New Yorker along with my laundry bag, and boomerang back at warp speed. Within minutes of my return, Missing Sock She-devil is back, too. There are two other women, one folding and the other, a woman in her early twenties, loading her wet clothes into a dryer. Missing Sock She-devil now focuses her wrath on the woman half her age.
Me (thinking): What the hell has she done? Leave my daughter alone!
Then, I recall I’m both not this young woman’s mother and I’m also a dedicated non-breeder. Once the young woman has inserted her quarters into her dryer she leaves the premises. Missing Sock She-devil removes her clothes from her dryer, even though her load appears to be damp, and her machine still has fifteen minutes to go. She could have given those minutes to the young woman. As she walks past me, I resist having myself beaten to within an inch of my life with a bottle of bleach by asking:
Me: Helped yourself to any socks lately?