Sunday, October 12, 2014

Folding in kindness

When it comes to laundry, I don't mind Step No. 1: Throw it all into the washer. After that, what little element of fun that might be construed from the process (and believe me, "fun" is a stretch of an adjective) disappears pretty quickly.

My mother, however, doesn't mind any part of doing laundry. In fact, she rather likes it. Yes, even the folding and putting away portion -- which I enjoy about as much as I relish unloading the dishwasher. In other words, not at all. If Mom used her dishwasher (Oh, honey, I just prefer washing by hand, and I really don't use enough dishes to fill it up) I feel certain she wouldn't mind unloading that either.

A few days ago, Mom carried her laundry basket with from-the-hamper clothes to the lone washer-dryer in her small apartment complex. When she got there, both machines were stuffed with anonymous shirts, towels, undies and jeans belonging to one of her neighbors. Without a second thought, Mom removed the clothes from the dryer, folding them on top of the washer. Then she transferred the clothes in the washer to the dryer, and started her own load.

She walked back to her apartment and, because it was dark by then, didn't return to the laundry room till the next morning. When she did, she saw this blue Post-It.

If you can't read the handwriting in my professional-quality photo, this is what it says:

Whoever folded my laundry, God bless you! I'm having such a hard time with a lot of things and you made me feel 1,000 percent better. Thank you!

There are, of course, lessons to be gleaned from this --- lessons about kindness, about caring; lessons about looking out for a stranger, about expressing gratitude. Beautiful lessons that remind us being nice is really so easy, doesn't take much time at all, and can change a moment or a day or an outlook.

But basically, I think, what sums it up is this: a reminder that, no matter how dark the forest or endless the tunnel or deep the ocean of sorrow, someone really does care. 

Maybe it's someone you know. Or maybe it's the soon-to-be-84-year-old in Apartment A, the one who didn't even consider piling your clothes on top of the dryer; instead, automatically and painstakingly folding them, one by one by one because -- well, they were there. And because someone -- in this case, you -- could probably use a little help.