Life on a sailboat changes me. I develop appreciation for things usually taken for granted: flush toilets, bathtubs and clean laundry. Oh, the laundry!
On July 4th, other American women looked forward to picnics and potato salad. I, however, was thrilled to do laundry.
At charming little Noank, Connecticut, we got in our dinghy along with our two guests and 35-pounds of laundry. Riding low in the water, we puttered two miles upriver to Mystic.
Our guests went off to be tourists, as we happily loaded laundry on our little pull cart. We phoned for a taxi, then got comfy on a porch bench in Mystic’s quaint riverside park.
My husband chatted with the man on the bench next to ours. Bill was the park supervisor. It’s a small park, so he supervised much of the area from his bench. Bill told us about the history of the park, its buildings, and occasionally hollered for folks to walk their bikes.
Sitting on that bench was like sitting in a Norman Rockwell painting. The surroundings were peaceful and simple. People laughed and smiled. And except for the occasional biker – America seemed to be enjoying a slow, lazy afternoon.
“Your taxi should’ve been here by now,” Bill commented.
We had waited over an hour.
He looked us over, fiddled with the keys in his pants pocket and cleared his throat. “I’ve never done this before, probably never do it again….” He paused. “But you seem like good people. Take my car.”
I wanted to throw my arms around him in gratitude, but was afraid I’d startle the dear man. Could he possibly know how important clean laundry is to a woman who spent the past month on a boat?
A few minutes later, my husband, our laundry and I drove off in Bill’s beautiful white convertible. The joy was short lived, however, because the Laundromat was locked tight. Yet Bill rescued us again, because he had mentioned a second Laundromat a bit further down the road, just in case. Bill was quickly becoming my Mystic Angel.
Gleefully, my hubby and I threw our laundry in washers. We sipped cold frappes from McDonald’s, wrote letters, and made phone calls as our clothes spun and tumbled. It was great!
Several hours later, carting our clean, folded laundry behind us, we approached Bill’s porch. No longer alone Bill was surrounded by friends who gathered at the porch to chat and watch the sunset. They erupted in cheers and laughter as we approached. Bill slowly exhaled with relief. We were good people. His car was back.
We laughed and chatted with the Porch People like we were old friends. Together we celebrated individuals who are generous to strangers, and strangers who are trustworthy. And the women laughed with me as I proclaimed my joy at having clean clothes. We took photos of each other. It didn’t matter we didn’t know each others’ names.
One woman wiped her eyes, “This makes my day to know there are still honest people in the world.”
In other words, she felt blessed.
My husband and I sure were blessed.
And it struck me how one person’s kindness to a couple of strangers turned an ordinary laundry day into a 4th of July celebration I’ll always remember.
(Our closet full of clean clothes)
Thanks again, Bill.