Dirty Laundry Secret - We Don't Wash & Tell.
This is about the time I laundered money.
Just kidding. But I really did think I was laundering money, and I was terrified.
It was a cool, calm morning — a rare feeling in a busy New York. I put my next client’s load into the dryer, humming a tune to pass the time.
At the click of a button, they were off. The machine rumbled and did its usual routine. This continued to be a normal day for me until I saw a dollar flying amongst the tumbling clothes.
“Ok, I mean, sometimes people forget there's change in their pockets,” I looked into the dryer and slightly laughed. “And I’m people.”
I brushed it off because I’ve seen weirder. Much weirder.
I returned to organize another load of clothes because this was a 45-minute dry cycle. I’m doing my usual routine and my mind drifts off wondering about that dollar. That lone, single dollar.
But that lone, single dollar was now two dollars. Three. Four. Five. Six. Now dozens within the 45-minute dry cycle.
“I-I’m laundering m-money!!!” I yelped, but immediately covered my mouth. “Sh-t. That is not something I want to say out loud.”
I rushed over to the window of the dryer. The clothes were meshed with dozens and dozens of single dollar bills. Who the hell has this many dollar bills?!
And, of course, again, only one thought came to my mind. She’s a stripper.
“She’s a stripper,” I said under my breath like it was a eureka moment. By the end of the cycle, I found $267 — mainly singles, but coupled with a pair of a hundred bucks.
I dug out the clothes from the dryer and collected a wad of cash. I shuffled through the money confused -- and slightly scared -- on what I had gotten myself into. In the dry cleaning industry, there’s a finders keepers rule…
“But let’s not exercise that rule today,” I chuckled nervously.
As I put a tight rubber band around the cash to keep it all in one place, I immediately thought of her children and husband.
Her husband is a nice, laid back guy. He’s the type of husband who wears suits on the weekdays, but jean shorts and sneakers on the weekend. Her children are the cutest babies and dress better -- and more expensively -- than me.
As I continued remembering her family, I realized we never talked about what her work is.
“Huh…,” I said as I put the clothes onto the black velvet hangers. “And they do go on a lot of vacations…,” I looked over at the remaining clothes, “Didn’t she also buy one of the babies’ a FENDI onesies?!”
“Huh…,” I turned to see the singles again. But I wiped the imaginary thought bubble above me.
I was basically done bagging the cleaned clothes by the time I tried to figure out this client’s life story and why she had $267 in cash.
“Let’s just deliver this to her and forget this ever happened,” I said, grabbing the clothes and slipping in the wad of cash in my bag.
It didn’t take too long to get to her place. Thank God.
The walk up to her place seemed like forever. With each step, I played out different scenarios for when I handed the cash back to her. Would she be embarrassed? Deny it? Be upset?
I hoped she didn’t do any of the three because, girl, ain’t nothing wrong with being a stripper. I just felt like a criminal holding onto $276 that wasn’t mine.
I finally reached her door and knocked, awaiting to be released from this money laundering situation.
She opened the door and was wearing a loose, yet conservative blouse. Her brunette hair was down, messily, slightly past her shoulders. She wore white slacks with no shoes. I could hear her kids in the background.
I snapped out of my gaze and cleared my throat, “Here, I found this while washing your clothes.” I smiled, holding the — what I hope wasn’t — laundered money in front of me and towards her.
“Oh, thank you!” she said so happily, not even trying to deny it’s hers. I gave an awkward smile. “I run an arcade so I always have loose money.”
“An ar-“ I stopped midway, I just had to laugh. “Y-You’re welcome. Have a good day!”
She saw me off with a smile and a wave as I walked down the somewhat steep steps, shaking my head.
Note to self: Strippers aren’t always the answer.