Monday, October 18, 2010

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?

Some of you had inquired about my neighborhood deli, which I told you was the victim of the fire. I am pleased to announce that the deli has re-opened with renovations that include: a brand new awning, a spanking new name “The Express Grocery”, the addition of floor to ceiling windows, and bright lights that shine from the awning in an otherwise dark, and dingy corner above the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. I saw the two owners smiling as they re-stocked their shelves and I thought all was right with the world.

Of course, not every story has a happy ending. I have not yet discussed what happened at the Laundromat because it is too confusing and painful. But I’m ready to tell the story now.

I do a Wash and Fold. For those of you who may not know, this means that I drop off my laundry and someone washes it, dries it, folds it and I pick it up when it’s done. Hence the name: Wash. And. Fold. It is a ridiculous expense (About $40 - $50 a month) but I don’t care. I am proud to say that I have not done my laundry since early 2004. To be fair, I have never had a washer/dryer in my apartment OR even in my apartment building since moving to New York City. In all honesty, I have forgotten what these strange contraptions look like. I enjoy living in ignorant bliss.

But things are not all rosy, happy, snappy at the Wash and Fold on Union Street. Maria is gone. My Maria. The woman who had me singing West Side Story as I skipped to and from the Laundromat. Who greeted me each morning with an amazing smile and said, “I hope you have a beautiful day Meleesa!” Who wondered where I was when I came back with a heap full of clothes after a vacation. Who told me I worked too hard and I deserved a rest when I arrived after 8pm to pick up my laundry (but who never once complained that she had been there since early morning). Who insisted that Tyler carry the laundry because that is the ‘right’ thing to do, the ‘chivalrous’ thing. Who told me, rather cheekily, that she makes her husband do all the laundry even when she could do it where she works.

She’s just…gone.

It’s now been 4 months without Maria and I’ve finally given in to that fact that she is not coming back. I don’t know who these crazy people are at the Laundromat now. There’s someone new every single day. They have some weirdo automated machine that prints out laundry tickets and they spell my name: Mallissa. And Tyler’s name: Taillor. Despite the fact that they have the machine, the drop off now takes forever and a day. They won’t do Taillor’s shirts because they have holes in the elbows (don’t ask, the guy has knives for elbows) even when he gives them permission to do so. They sigh when I tell them what time I will be coming to pick up the laundry. They can never remember what color my laundry bag is. AND, I didn’t want to bring this up, but I feel I must. There was once a pair of foreign black underwear in my laundry bag after a pickup. Let’s just say they were not mine and leave it at that.

I’m really devastated about Maria. Not because of my laundry, but because I just thought she was a warm, generous person I enjoyed chatting with in the mornings. I’ve considered frantically calling out her name on Columbia street in Red Hook (she once told us she lives on this street). But that is a predominantly Latin neighborhood and I’m sure there are probably 500 Maria’s in the many high rises that stretch along that one street. Other than that, I haven’t come up with any other creative ideas to find her. I’ll miss her very much. As the little Von Trapp children said in The Sound of Music when Maria went back to the convent, She didn’t even say goodbye…

If you are reading this post and you happen to know where Maria is, please let me know. I need some closure. And if any of you meet anyone named Maria, anytime, anywhere, please ask her if she once worked at a Laundromat on Union Street in Brooklyn and, if she did, send her my love.


  1. I hope you find her and that she's okay. It's amazing how much those people an mean in your life, that you always assumed would just be there and never go away.

  2. oh no! how DO you solve a problem like maria? how do you catch a rainbow in your hands? (i THINK that's the line...)

    have you asked the other employees at your wash and fold?

    please keep us posted on your investigation, melissa!

  3. Let's pretend she retired and is now enjoying daily foot rubs from her husband and frolicking around a farm in the Catskills.

  4. We miss her too. She always donned a dustmask each day and thoroughly cleaned every last machine. The new people don't. The machines are getting gooky and my laundry tends to smell like the previous person's gross scented detergent or even sometimes mildewy. She really cared and greeted us by name every time we went. Where did she go??

  5. She is sorely missed... she used to greet me by name every time. the first time bewildered me - she had already figured out who i was by chatting with my flat-mate! The machines were always clean and the service provided with a smile. I hope it is true that she is retired and enjoying some well earned rest.