Thursday at the Laundromat

It’s Thursday night and some folks are getting ready to PARTY. Me, I’m walking through town on the way to washing up clothes at the Jeffersonville Laundromat.

As I walk inside, I see a young couple who I later find out are named John and Sophie. They’re working on the drying cycle. John and Sophie must be about 22 and 18, respectively, and they’re dressed in what many folks wear to the laundromat- comfy pajama sweats.

After we introduce ourselves, John, who’s a real friendly type says, “Hey! You want some free Chinese food?”

“Excuse me?” I say. I’m thinking he bought some dinner and has extra.

“This kid he just came in here with a bag full of food that he must’ve just bought from the Chinese place down the street and he left it here saying ‘Here’s some food’ and then he just took off, Man.”

“So do you want it?” asks John.

He points to a bag next to the seat where I’m sitting and I take a peak. Inside, sure as heck, there’s 2 cartons of white rice and two entrees, and two fortune cookies, still warm and sealed like it usually is when you get takeout.

“I think the kid who left it may have been a little, y’know, slow,” says Sophie.

“What did he look like?” I ask. I’m thinking he might come back for his food after they leave.

“He had like short hair, almost bald, y’know and he was wearing a blue coat,” said John.

“I think I saw him while I was outside taking a photo,” I said.

“So aren’t you gonna take it home?” I ask.

He laughs and says, “Nah, Man. I already ate. You should take it,” John says with a smile. “It looks really good.”

Hmmm. Now, that’s NOT what I was expecting on Thursday at the laundromat.

John and I start talking about the area, how he grew up here and still likes to fish for trout during summer and sometimes hunts, too. And I tell him how we just moved here and he suggests that this side of the mountain is the best side.

“Don’t go to Monticello or any of those towns,” John says. “Too many drugs there.”

He’s a good kid and so I think of my daughter, Steph. She looks a little like these two and she shares that forthright kind of honestly when she talks, too.

When Steph bicycled or hopped freight trains across the country, she busked to make money for gas and food or often accepted gifts of money or meals from complete strangers. It was during those trips that she learned who she could trust. She also learned about dumpster diving from fellow travelers.

Dumpster-diving, if you don’t know, is a great way to find food that’s sealed and healthy, but for some reason the grocery store has thrown it away. Every day, stores dispose of thousands of dollars of perfectly fine food because of some random expiration date, a package that’s partially damaged or because they need to make room for new deliveries on the truck. It’s a crying shame – especially when food is so expensive and so many people can’t afford it.

The first time Steph showed me a haul of food from a dumpster diving expedition, it looked like she had shopped for it. It wasn’t dirty, ripped open or spoiled. It was just…random.

“When you dive, you get what you get,” she told us.

And if you’re wondering, “Did Scott and Beth eat it?” The answer is “yes” even though every bit of our suburban safety training said, “NOOOOOO!” Such are the times when we expand our ideas of right and wrong on the Adventure.

Thirty minutes have gone by. No sign of the boy in the blue jacket and I’m on the dryer cycle.

John and Sophie return to pick up their clothes and I say, “You sure you don’t want this food? It looks really good.”

“”Nah,” John says. “It’s yours, Scott. Nice to meet you.”

And as they leave, I smile. I miss Steph but it’s like she’s here with me, still teaching me how to trust the gifts that drop into our lives from life on the road.

Arriving at the cabin, I greet Beth and begin to help her setup her online yoga class.

“We’ve got free Chinese food,” I say, “and it’s a funny story.”

I tell Beth the tale about how we were given a free dinner. She laughs and I know that very soon after I finish this post and put away the clothes, the two of us will watch a couple of episodes of “Heartland” and enjoy this unexpected, wonderful gift courtesy of John, Sophie, Steph, and a generous stranger in a blue coat.

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