Welcome to the A to Z Challenge : 26 Stories during the month of April
Welcome to… The Apartment Building
They shuffled in like they owned the place, and they did. Nodding to each other, setting up shop, the early morning hours were theirs. All the important doings in the building were discussed, rumors started or squashed, and the comings and goings were under their observation. It was a perfect view of the mail boxes, and the entrance from the parking lot. No one could sneak up on them. No one would even dare try. These were the off hours for everyone else, and a wide berth was given to them.
The Laundry Room Mafia reined supreme during that time between breakfast and lunch, weekdays. They took shifts, taking up all the machines, constantly confabbing under the roar of washers, dryers and the exhaust fan. During the winter months the room was toasty, and if they lingered there a little longer, into the early afternoon, no one dared say a word. No snow birds, these women manned their posts with a year round strangle hold.
Ida, Evelyn, Helen, Dotty and Bella loomed large in their compressed-by-age frames. They each wielded laundry carts that had seen better days; the noisier the better, some would say (but not within their hearing distance). Andres, the super, would stop and share some gossipy news with them, and if it was really juicy his guffaws and their cackles would ring out through the ground floor hallway. His wife, Dragana, scowled at them all as she went in and out with her dogs or to go shopping.
When there were babies in Swan Rise Apartments, you’d see a shifting in the tide for a bit. The new mothers were welcomed, and a huge fuss was made over the tiny bundles. This lasted as long as the child remained cute and cuddly. After a certain point, the rules went back into effect, and the families had to find later times to do their wash. Until that dismissal, talk of prior children in the building would run around the laundry room, sighs and misty eyes finally being replaced by annoyed looks and mutterings.
Patty tried to change things when she became the president of the Tenants Committee by imposing a laundry room schedule. That never got off the ground. Mrs. Beatty was made an offer she couldn’t refuse (sometimes admittance to the “club”) and proposal papers, that Patty would never had dirtied her hands with, got “misplaced.”
As to the other residents, most worked weekdays, so it was no real problem. Frank came and went at all hours and just felt better doing his laundry late at night. The Weather Man wandered and no one had ever seen him doing laundry. The Whistler, annoying as he was, kept his court outside of the laundry room, never venturing in. Marc of “those two” ingratiated himself from time to time; they found him cute. The dog owners passed by, nodding their homage and moved along quickly.
Ida, Evelyn, Helen, Dotty and Bella finished their morning ablutions in a ceremony that resulted in neat folds of cloth. They solemnly placed their linens and personal items on the bottom of their laundry carts, topped them off with housecoats, dresses and tops, and made their way out of the room, past the mail boxes, to the elevator.
The last to leave, for that day, would turn off the light of the laundry room. A benediction of a wash day well served.