10 am on a Monday at the Wash N’ Go


  • Twenty dollars worth of quarters in your wallet feels like you’re carrying a brick
  • You could ditch the laundromat and go to Chuck E. Cheese.
  • Clean out the construction worker’s pockets: nuts and bolts, screw drivers, things you have no idea what they are, and sometimes, a box cutter, which is awkward in public. You stuff it down your pants until you can smuggle it to the car.
  • Clean out the smoker’s pockets: Lighters. And yet, he can never find one when he needs it.
  • Clean out the man’s pockets: Change. Dollar bills.
  • Claim anything useful.
  • Plot your course: The empty row of smaller washers or the three bigger washers spread around the laundromat.
  • Scout the competition: one Hispanic lady, one Hispanic lady and her daughter and a baby in a stroller, one white lady
  • Wonder why they’re not working
  • Wonder if they’re wondering why you’re not working
  • Wonder if you’ll ever find a job

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Eating Free Lunch

Seemingly a perk is the free room given to TJ on his current renovation of a Motel 6. We “lucked out” when the electrician he shared a room with left for a family emergency, leaving the space to just the two of us (after Jumaane left for the east coast). Having dealt with my share of almost evictions during graduate school, I haven’t taken a roof over my head for granted since. But a free lunch (or room in this instance), as we all know, is never free. And while living in a motel room does have some unique advantages, it also has some fundamental drawbacks.

Privacy — One morning, when I first arrived in Ventura, but after my brother was gone, I was lingering in bed with a book and cup of coffee. My intention to get up kept falling to the wayside with each page, when I heard the door opening. I thought it was TJ,and gave no thought to my state of undress, which was mostly covered by a blanket. In fact, it was not TJ, but another man on the crew who was looking for a tool that TJ had in our room. We made eye contact, not sure what to say,

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