Monday, April 06, 2015

Angels in the Neighborhood

Every Saturday I get up early in the morning to go to the laundromat. My husband kindly prepares the two laundry bags and heavy duty folding metal cart for me, and I schlep it behind me down the sidewalk a few blocks or so. I like to think of my Saturday mornings as my “fun Saturday adventures”.
For a while I really dreaded this chore, but then realized after I got to know so many people in my neighborhood that this was actually a gift. My neighborhood is an interesting place with wonderfully diverse people. Not everyone I’ve met is someone I’ve met at the laundromat, but I’ve gotten to know quite a few from just being out and about. I think Mr. Rogers would love the people in my neighborhood. I’m also grateful for the fact that I don’t have to go down to the Charles River and bang my clothes on rocks.
For years I have wanted to take photos of some of the people I’ve gotten to know, and perhaps someday I will . . . But for one thing, I personally don’t like my photo taken, and know lots of others feel the same way. It also would be difficult for me to lug my good camera with me to do laundry. I’ve spoken about this with one neighbor friend, and she thinks it’s a good idea, but the timing would have to be just right. Karen is one who I usually see every Saturday. She and I are both the same age, and have different lives and backgrounds. She is originally from Venezuela and speaks very softly, so it can be a challenge understanding what she’s saying sometimes with her accent and with the washers and dryers making so much noise.
One day when Karen was at the laundromat before me, there was a friendly junkie guy loitering there who was hitting on her, so we decided to go out for “coffee”. Since it was raining out, and the coffee shop wasn’t open yet we decided to go to her apartment. I enjoyed seeing her place, which made my place seem big in comparison, and I got to meet her pet turtle. We hung out for a bit, and went to the pastry shop together before heading back to the laundromat. Thankfully the guy had split. This is someone I saw on the bus one day. He actually greeted everyone who got on, and loudly blessed the sneezers.
There have been times when homeless men have camped out overnight in the laundromat. Or they show up while I’m there to put their stuff in a dryer. There are also people who need help with the machines. If I see that they don’t have enough quarters or something, I like to help them out. I feel that there’s a reason for me being there, other than just to do my laundry.

It’s amazing to me how many people I get to see on any given Saturday. There’s Jeff next door, who will yell across a busy street to inquire as to how you’re doing. There’s Jim with his walker who always stops to say hello on his way to get his scratch tickets. And Kevin, the Vietnam vet who laughed with me about the froufrou restaurant that just opened down the street. One of my very favorite neighbors is Reyes, with whom I mostly communicate through smiles and handshakes. Seeing his smile always makes my day. And it’s always a treat to see Mac the school crossing guard. He probably knows more about the people in the neighborhood than anyone else. If it weren’t for him I also wouldn’t have met Theresa, and her little pug, Ben.

I actually asked Mac once if I could take his photo, but he said no. I can respect that.


Anonymous said...

You truly have a wonderful life, full of rare people. I think Mr. Rodgers would like you neighbors. Everyone in today's world move so fast, that they don't have time to get to know each other. I love that you take the opportunity to get to know the people that come and go in your life. Here you live in a big city and I live in a suburb and you have more insight with your neighbors than I do. Keep up the journal, I enjoy reading it. Laurie

Lisa Ruokis said...

HI Laurie, thanks so much for reading and commenting . . . I'm lucky to have such a unique neighborhood in which to live. It's been about seven years now since we moved from Bridgewater. If it weren't for going to & from the laundromat each week, I definitely wouldn't know so many people.