Today I decided to do laundry. Wash my jeans, specifically, all six pairs. A bit before 9 am, I took them to the laundry room at my apartment complex. There was a hamper and some scattered clothes, so someone else was in the middle of laundry as well, but the washing machine wasn't in use. I put the pants in along with the requisite soap and money, started the machine, and went back into my apartment.
A little after 10, I went out to check on them. The washing machine was still running. I was puzzled, because the machine doesn't normally take that long, but I left it alone. Twenty minutes later I went out again. It had stopped, but in the washing machine window there appeared to be a white towel. I opened the door and found an assortment of women's clothes.
The hamper from before was gone and the dryer was running. I wondered if someone had decided to dry my clothes on their dime. Odd as that might be, it was the only thing I could think of. I went back in and mentioned this to Malone, who taught me something I hadn't learned in three and a half years of living here: you can open the dryer mid-cycle and not lose your money. The clothes in the dryer appeared to be of the same batch as the ones in the washer.
About a week ago, we received an e-mail from Atwood that said items were being stolen from laundry rooms. Atwood runs quite a number of complexes, however, some of them substantially sketchier than ours, and there was nothing to indicate it was a problem here. Needless to say, in an instant that e-mail rang entirely too true.
I paced in the hallway for several minutes, unwisely smacking the wall at one point, deciding how to proceed. If you know me, you've probably seen how raggedy some of my jeans are, and I tried to spin it in my head as an excuse to finally replace them, but fuck all that. Someone stole my shit. Someone needed to get found out. E-mailing Atwood wouldn't do anything. I could knock on doors, but a thief isn't going to make it so easy to figure them out. It still seemed the best option.
First, however, I went inside to think. I mentioned this, broadly, to Malone, who suggested that perhaps a good (if misguided) soul had taken my clothes into their apartment in light of the laundry room thefts and had the intention of returning them. After all, the clothes had disappeared in less than an hour, which almost surely pointed the finger at someone on our floor. If the thief was that stupid, they probably would have been caught by now.
With this idea in tow, I headed across the hall to Apartment #1 and knocked. I've never spoken to them, but I know it's an apartment of college-age women, so they seemed most likely to own the clothes currently in the laundry room. No one answered.
I readied myself to knock again when I thought, well, before I go banging on everyone's doors, maybe I should check upstairs. The original idea, that someone was drying my clothes with their money, still seemed highly unlikely, but at this point everything seemed unlikely and the idea someone would take my clothes upstairs for that purpose didn't strike me as weirder than anything else.
Upon entering the second floor laundry room, I beheld my sopping wet pile of jeans resting on top of the washing machine. Immediately my building stress melted away. I would have put them in the dryer there, but that was also in use, so I carried them back downstairs, into my apartment. With the stress evaporating, however, the fullness of the morning's proceedings settled in.
- I went to do laundry.
- My laundry was removed from the washing machine by someone else, presumably the person who used it immediately afterwards.
- This has happened before; normally the clothes being removed are put on top of the washer or dryer, wherever there's room. That did not happen.
- In light of reported thievery, it did not seem impossible a person would take the clothes into their own homes for temporary safekeeping, regardless of the obvious flaws in that plan. That did not happen.
- Instead, the individual took my clothes TO A DIFFERENT FLOOR and left them for whoever to find. The tops of the washer and dryer on our floor were empty, so there was a place to put them. I did not take anyone else's clothes out of the washer in order to do my own, so there was no reason for this person to enact some sort of petty vengeance on me for inconveniencing them.
I am so goddamned confused right now. It's almost impossible to find out who it was unless I directly bump into them doing their laundry, but I so desperately want to ask them why. I'm not even mad anymore. I feel like, if I can understand the thought process behind that action, I could make a completely new character out of it for a story.