sometimes you choke down
the bile and do the right thing
jesus christ, she said, when
i came into the laundry room
in the basement.
i didn’t say anything.
well, you could’ve said hello
why would i do that? i asked.
because you snuck up on me.
this is a public space, lady.
still nothing. i’m just checking my laundry.
but you could’ve said something, like hello.
i don’t need to announce my presence.
all you had to say was hello.
i don’t have to say hello to you, lady,
i don’t know you from shit.
it’s only right. this goddamned laundry room
people always sneaking up on you. you
could’ve done the right thing.
like hell, i said. i checked my laundry
and it had 5 minutes to go. so i made
to go back up to my apartment
instead of waiting it out with that lunatic women.
learn some manners, she said, as i left.
if you don’t like it complain to the landlord,
i got to the elevator. i pressed the button.
you could’ve been a rapist, i heard her shout.
then the elevator came. but i waited.
i thought about my wife doing laundry alone
in that basement.
or my mother by the side of the road, at night,
with a busted car and no cell phone signal.
and i went back to the laundry room.
mam, i said.
she didn’t answer but just looked at me.
i’m sorry, i said. my name is jay and i live in 1r.
i’m a librarian.
she looked at me for a second then smiled and shook my hand.
i’m martha, she said, and it’s good to meet you too.