Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Laundrymat Embezzlement

Fussy's speculation about her kid and a laundrymat re-ignited a childhood memory

It used to be my job to go to the laundrymat and do the laundry. I was pretty young then...about 11 or so. My mom would drop me off and in about 7 hours she would pick me up.

What did I do in those 7 hours? Well, she'd drop me off with a whole bunch of change. It seemed like a fortune in change. And unfortunately, there was a 7-11 right next to the laundrymat. The way I looked at it (I didn't get an allowance as a child) the change was my 'commission.' If I could do the laundry on the least amount of money possible I could spend the rest. So I would pack 8 washloads into 3 machines and then use the rest of the money to buy candy and comic books. Mostly, I sat around in the 7-11 and read the comic books. I read them all, actually. My favorite candy was in this burlap bag thingy....Little cherry rock-type candy.

This is why it took 7 hours. I realize now it was probably a way to get rid of me so she could study.

But now I'm thinking: Wow, I embezzled. From my own parents. And we were poor and everything. I never discussed the issue of the 'commission' with my mother.

Who teaches us to rationalize our sins? Is it simply some internal instinct? Or do we learn it somewhere?

She never really taught me how to do laundry. She had a lot of faith in me, my mother. In fact, when my youngest sister was born I wasn't even in high school yet and I remember my parents one day just handing her over to me. A six-week old infant. No instructions. I think they assumed it was obvious. I did alright--she has no complaints. I'll never forget the first day, though. She just sat in my arms and squalled and screamed.

I think back now to this and shudder. Thank God the kid (who in fact isn't a kid anymore) is still alive.


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