Dear Motorcycle Dude in the hotel laundry room,
It’s been over a month since I ran into you at that hotel a couple hours outside Yellowstone Park and you’re still on my mind. I thought perhaps if I wrote you a letter it might clear my head, or at least sort out my thoughts.
I don’t normally wash laundry at hotels, in fact, this is the first time ever. I didn’t even know hotels had a laundry room that guests could use. Pretty handy.
Clearly I startled you more than you surprised me. I was just standing there with my laundry bag of whites waiting for the single washing machine to finish its cycle, wondering who else in the fully booked hotel needed to throw in a load. I figured whoever it was would be in shortly and I’d just wait rather than wandering back to the room. You walked in just as the cycle on the washer ended, which was dang good timing, if you ask me.
When you walked in with your face turned away from me and toward the washer I thought you were a woman with your long wavy hair. But I was wrong. When I caught a glimpse of your face the beard gave it away.
I said something dumb like, “Wow, good timing there.” And you about jumped out of your shorts. Obviously you hadn’t seen me when you walked in. If the situation had been reversed I’d have probably fainted.
“Oh, hey,” you said, sounding all cool and collected, as you gathered up your clean wet clothes and tossed them into the only dryer. You threw out a conversation starter with, “I road my bike up from Cali. There’s a bunch of us. Been up in Yellowstone.” You reached into the washer a little further. “Man it’s crowded up there.”
“Yeah,” I said, trying to sound cool myself. “I’ve been wanting to get back up to Yellowstone but I figure I’d try to go after the crowds settle out, maybe after Labor Day, in September.” In my head I knew it’d be pretty dang cold already in September, but that’d be the best time to go for someone who doesn’t like traffic and crowds like me. I don’t like the cold either, but it’s the lesser of the three evils.
“It was nice. Glad I went.” You settled your quarters into the coin slots and pushed in the lever, and started up the dryer. “All yours,” you said with a smile.
“Thanks. Nice meeting ya,” I replied.
“Same here,” you replied. And you were out the door and down the hall.
I started my load of washing, adding the miniature box of laundry powder MSH had gotten at the front desk, pushed in my own quarters and levers, and set my phone timer.
Half an hour later, when I went back to the tiny laundry room the washer hadn’t finished its cycle yet. So, once again I stood there waiting. The dryer was still tumbling a load dry, too. A couple minutes later you walked in and said, “hey!” like we were old friends.
“Hey there,” I said back.
As you were pulling out your dried clothes you offered up this surprisingly personal information, “I have a couple twenty year old boys. One of em has a baby, dang kid. “
“Sweet!” I said.
“Yeah,” you answered, stopping with your laundry gathering for a moment. Then you added this gem, “I can be standing there at work getting yelled at by some plumber and my phone will ding with a text. “ Then you held your hand up like you’re telling a guy to hold that thought a second. Then you go on. “I’ll look at my text on the phone,” and here you held up an imaginary cell phone, ” and there’s a picture of the baby. Just then I could care less what I’m getting yelled at for. My face breaks into a smile. Man!” And your eyes lit up like how I feel when I’m with my own grand babies.
“Grandkids are the best, aren’t they?” I answered. “Makes it all worthwhile.”
“No kidding!” you said as you gathered your laundry into both arms. I grabbed the door handle and pulled it open for you. “Thanks!” you said as you made your way down the hall.
I gathered my wet laundry from the washer and tossed it into the dryer wondering why you chose to tell me about your sons and a grand baby. I don’t think you mentioned if it was a girl or boy. I wish I’d asked to see a picture. Dang it!
I felt lucky to have heard about this small joy in your life. I have no idea even what your name is or what part of California you’re from. I think the juxtaposition of a “motorcycle dude” as a softhearted dad and grandpa just caught me off guard. It shouldn’t have. After all, my son rides a motorcycle, and he’s one of the nicest guys I know.
I definitely have a tendency of putting people in categories, not as a judgmental thing, just as a way of simplifying life. If I think of every single person as a complicated, intricate puzzle of relationships and feelings I might get overwhelmed by worry, or love or responsibility or concern, but maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe I’d just be happier and more open to possibilities.
Thank you for sharing that tiny bit of information about a huge part of your life. You opened my eyes and heart. Every time I see someone on a motorcycle now, I smile. And I wonder how they are and who they are.
From now on, when I see a motorcyclist, I’d like it to remind me not to box people into categories so quickly. Sure, people can be messy and complicated, but they can also bring such sweetness and light.
Hey, you stay safe out there, especially on those California highways. I wish people in cars would be more careful, y’know, look twice, pay better attention. I’d hate to have anything bad happen to you.
The lady in the laundry room,