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Too Much Cleanliness

When I lived in downtown Las Vegas near Freemont Street, my neighbors were a lovely, lively bunch of people. My apartment was inside First United Methodist Church. I lived across the street from the police station, behind a bank and next door to a casino. Bums slept in the alley outside my door.

About the only accommodation the church didn’t have was a washing machine. I took my wash to the laundromat once per week, usually early on Saturday morning before the crowds arrived. One such Saturday I pulled into the laundromat just as the attendant unlocked the door. As I toted my stuff in he said to me, “You’ll probably be alone for an hour or so before any other customers come in. I’ll be across the street at Denny’s if you need me.” Then he left.

I carried my laundry basket to the first row of washers and started sorting clothing into machines. A man came through the door and walked to the opposite end of the row. He opened a duffle bag and shook it’s contents into the washer. Then he took off his shirt. Next his tennis shoes came off and went into the machine. His socks followed. He reached for his belt.

I started pulling clothes back out of the washing machines and returning them to my basket. I left the laundromat just as his underwear were coming off.

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. ha, one of those weird moments that happen sometimes.
    once i watched a man wash in the fountain on a summer morning. i thought at first he might be a traveller stopping briefly on his way to who knows where but then i saw him begging not far from there some days later.

  2. oh my gosh! What a predicament. I don’t know if I would have left or started scolding him. I think you did the smart thing. Scolding him would probably just cause trouble.

  3. Polona — well, we know they weren’t dirty bums ….

    Dr. John — yep. Pronto!

    Cindy — I was modest enough for both of us!

    Jules — I was speechless. I probably could have sputtered, but scolding was right out!

  4. I know people will think, “WHO is the world would do something like this…..haha, but believe me, I have seen it happen also.

    We were at Mcdonald’s in Ukiah, I went to the bathroom, and a woman was stripped down to her skivies, washing her clothes in the sink and at the same time washing herself. It was kind of disgusting, although she really DID need that bath…… I couldn’t get to the sink to wash my hands because she was using both of them. One for her clothes the other for her feet…..

  5. Nea, when I was the janitor in that downtown church, after services one Sunday I went to clean and lock the restrooms. In the men’s room I found a bum wearing nothing but shaving cream. His clothes were in one sink, he was shaving at another. I told him I’d be back in an hour to clean the place, and left my service cart in the hall. When I returned the bum was gone — and the bathroom was sparkling clean and shiny. All that remained for me to do was mop the floors and lock the door.

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