Posts Tagged ‘Coffee’

I was doing Joe’s laundry. He’s on the fourth floor. The laundry room is located on the first floor. It was my first time. Not my first time doing laundry – just my first time doing Joe’s laundry. 

I was already jacked on caffeine from my own water bottle full of coffee (I put my coffee in a water bottle when I’m in motion) and then the cup that he had forced me to get while picking up his breakfast. 

Yeah, I was jItTeRy – just a bit. 

The laundry room was huge – lots of room to place a basket, jug of laundry soap, and small box of dryer sheets while the machines did their washing and drying. I put the jug and the box inside the small round basket and placed them on the long table-shelf towards the back of the room. 

Joe was still on his way down. We were on our way to Dunkin Donuts because Joe likes to watch the people there. It didn’t take me long to figure out that it was mostly the female people he enjoyed watching. I was taught never to argue with my elders so I watched them as well. 

Joe wanted to get me another cup of coffee. He wanted me to have a large one. So we drank our coffees and we watched people. I watched all of them – both sexes – I swear I did. I used the bathroom four times in between. Damn you peer pressure. 

For a 76-year-old with thick lenses, Joe could follow the movement of a body for a good quarter-mile before it disappeared into a building. He was damn good. 

Finally it was time to get back to the laundry. It was a short ride and a short walk to the elevator. Joe was tired out though. He sat on a bench on the first floor while I went to get the laundry. 

Even before opening the laundry room door I could see that the basket, and the jug, and the little box where no longer on the table-shelf. Being wasted on caffeine and on my way to losing my mind as it is, I figured maybe – just maybe I’d taken them back up. 

First I looked inside every recycling bin in the room – about six of them. I checked the trash as well because old people can hold grudges. Maybe Joe had cut one of them off on the way to a washer one morning. Maybe that person had waited for months until a new guy slipped up and left the goods out in the open. It happens more than you’d think. 

I took his laundry out, folded it, and headed out to find him. He was gone. Jesus, I was hoping they hadn’t kidnapped him as well. Old people have gangs too. And they might not remember to take their meds but they’ll remember being disrespected in a laundry room. 

So he was either gagged and bound in the back of a van on the way to Trenton or he was waiting for me up to the fourth floor. 

The elevator door opened and a woman with a walker cut me off to get the spot near the buttons. I like pushing the buttons too but have become more and more aware of the bacteria that they carry so I didn’t throw any elbows. 

But on the little bench of her walker was a round basket. It was filled with a jug of laundry soap and a small box of dryer sheets. Inside the basket was also her change purse and a plastic cup of water.

I said, “I must be losing my mind. I went to do laundry and now my basket, my jug of laundry soap, and box of dryer sheets are missing.” And I looked down at her basket. My first instinct was to kick the walker out from under her and grab Joe’s things. But she was from the 3rd floor. Her gang of stealing thugs could have been waiting for her. 

She looked at me and said in her Italian accent, “Wella. I tella everybody that the backa shelfa is fora anybody to take-ah. Ita meansa thata you do not want it.” 

“Oh, I said,” thinking that I could probably fight off a gang of old people if she wanted to get tough about it. “But I didn’t know about that rule. I’m new here. I didn’t see a sign. Why is there not a sign?” 

She continued, “Ima very sorry. Everyone knowsa the rulesa here.” 

“You need a sign or something,” I said as the door opened at the 3rd floor. There was nobody in sight. She was working alone. Then she gave in, “Ima sorry. Here you are-ah. Justa remember the rules-ah. 

She took her water and purse and pushed her walker out of the door. 

Joe was sitting on the bench in front of me as the door opened again on the 4th floor. I plopped the basket down next to him – flustered – sweating caffeine. 

“Joe, you will not believe this story.” I explained it to him. About the basket, the table-shelf, and the old lady with the walker. 

“Ohhh yeahhhh. Sure,” Joe said. “I’ve gotten some great stuff off that table. I got some cans of soup, a radio, and some nice clothes. It’s the rule. If you don’t want something you put it on the table for anyone else to take.” 

“But a sign,” I said. “There is no sign. Why is there not a sign? And besides, it was a laundry basket, in a laundry room. It was filled with laundry equipment. The dryer was still running.”

Joe laughed, “I should have told you about the rule. And I am going to go down there later and ask to have a sign put up.”

So, just a warning to the uninitiated: Beware the rules of the common areas.

My Friend Sal

Posted: February 25, 2013 in Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah
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While just as fascinating as it is complicated – the human body was designed to kill us and it eventually will.

How else to explain a pump that can stop at any moment – with only a slim chance of being restarted? Or the mind that flits so far astay it can never find its way back?

How else to explain a skull not thick enough to survive a windshield or a mind not strong enough to will it away from a drink before that ride?

And how else to explain an oxygen-rich river on the verge of bursting its weak vessel wall – or a mutant cell hiding and then exploding into the body like a poisonous grenade?

Yet sometimes the body and mind will take its owner on a long journey – far away from birth. Sometimes luck, or God, or a hundred other dips and turns lead it past ninety – and lead it well.

Sal’s body and mind has led him past his 94th birthday.

There’s been some luck involved, like making it out of a World War alive. His body and his mind held up famously through it all. He is a bit disappointed that it took his country and his state so long to thank him with a small ceremony, certificate, and picture with a politician.

He wishes it had been sooner so that those who weren’t lucky enough to make it into their late-80’s could have also enjoyed the extra attention. But it’s a lovely picture because even at this stage of his life, Sal has a smile that flickers in your mind for the entire day.

His wife isn’t quite as lucky as Sal though. He kept her at home for as long as possible. He finally had to give her up to a place that could tend to her day and night. Alzheimer’s can be as sneaky as a gray hair – sparse at first – even unnoticeable until one morning the whole cluster gangs up on you and changes the view you were once used to.

Sal can do almost everything on his own although he is a bit unsteady and has only been out of the hospital one full weekend after six weeks of treatment for a heart issue. He was lucky at the time of the episode that he was near his phone.

I was lucky on this bright Monday morning when Sal pulled an eighty-year-old Universal coffee percolator from the back of the counter. His mother-in-law once worked at the New Britain company that made them. He scoffed at the sight of the new Keureg that sparkled fancy and new across the counter. We were going to have a real man’s cup of coffee.

Sal is an Italian guy who grew up in a Polish neighborhood. He learned early on that everyone is basically the same inside so he doesn’t care much about the differences on the outside. He said the Japanese soldiers, all those years before, weren’t much different from him or his buddies. They were following orders. The enemy wanted to be back with family – safe and sound just as they did.

He doesn’t think a two-party political system will ever solve our problems – too much gridlock. He doesn’t need a cell phone or a computer either. He’s gotten this far without them. The house is equipped with Wi-Fi for his son and daughter-in-law but she’s also a jigsaw puzzle fanatic and he seems to appreciate the balance between high-tech and no-tech. 

Sal cannot wait until I’m back to see him again. I’m anxious for my return visit as well. We were both in need of each other at exactly the same time. And somehow we were matched-up together. Just lucky I guess.