to the person who threw my laundry in the trash

Dear Neighbour,

I’m not sure who you are, but this is Lucia in 101. I am the single Mom with the eight-year-old girl. You may have even recognized my laundry: since it contained my daughter’s red raincoat, her figure skating bag, her hat made by Auntie Ana that we fight “dibs” over, and her favourite toy dog. My daughter is the only child in the building.

I’m not sure why you thought our clean laundry in the dryer was garbage and threw it in the trash outside. Perhaps it was because I left it unattended for a few hours today? I do sincerely apologize. I forgot I had a load left this busy time of year. I typically have good laundry etiquette. I’m clean, I remove my items when they’re done and I make a habit of only using one washer/dryer at a time. Please, don’t do this to anyone else. It’s terribly unkind.

Sincerely LuciaIMG_0218

Can I tell you how many times I wrote this letter?

It takes me a while to remove anything angry (merry f’ing Christmas) tearful (“congratulations, you hurt me”) patronizing (“you must be really hurting this Christmas, I’m sorry you’re in such pain”) or snide (“Thank you SO MUCH for throwing my laundry BESIDE the garbage bin not IN the garbage bin. That was so considerate! That sure taught me a good lesson. Thank you for making me a better person.”)

I tape the approved version above on the laundry room wall and as soon as I do, lovely J, with the pin curl wavy hair bounds in, happy as a Christmas elf. He asks me cheerfully if I am getting laundry finished for the holidays and I agree I am. As he skates out the door all handsome and smelling of soap, I can’t imagine a malicious bone in his body. Yet, I stop him and ask, “J, you didn’t get annoyed with my laundry sitting in the dryer and throw it in the garbage did you? It had a bunch of little girl’s clothes? I’m sorry I was late removing it…”

He gasps, horrified, “What?!”

I laugh, “I didn’t think so, but I had to ask. You’re the only person I’ve seen and I’d rather have a face to face conversation.”

“What the hell?! Who would DO that?!” He pauses, a suspect flashing before him…”Well…I can think of one person who would do that…”

I leap, “It’s a she?” He jumps, “Yes! She’s on this floor.”

“I knew it! And her name begins with K?” “YES!”

“Okay, Mike and Juno warned me about her when I moved in. If that’s the only weirdo in the building I’ll take down my note. No use upsetting others by sharing what she did.”

Lovely J actually tears up a little and says, “I’m so sorry this happened to you, please, I want to welcome you here. Everyone in this building is so nice except for her.”

“Thank you, J. Christmas can be hard on people. Especially if they’re already a little disturbed. Not to sound patronizing…” (yet it’s totally patronizing and I know it…)

J isn’t as convinced. “You should come to the next strata meeting and call her out, the nosy bitch. When my partner and I moved in, she asked all sorts of questions about our renovations. I got a call from the building manager the very next day with a complaint.”

We chuckle and I say, “It’s reassuring to have you confirm who I’m likely dealing with. Suddenly it’s not personal. She’s a wacko. I’m okay to ignore her.”

J holds the door for me and we wish each other a Merry Christmas.

As I fold Nora’s socks and shirts and blankets and hats and prop her toys in sweet welcoming ways around her room I think of all the other people tucked up in their little square boxes beside me, above me. Like Christmas presents. Some anticipated, some not. How delicate it is. This thing we call community.

I also think of K and how I don’t mind at all that I used her actual initial in social media. I will fill in another letter if she pulls something like that again.

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