Grace Money.

Yesterday I was robbed.

In the middle of a beautiful day, at the laundromat 2 blocks from my home… I walked in with 5 loads of laundry and did a silent cheer that I had the place all to myself.

After sorting my colors and delicates and squishing the entirity of my comforter into a washer much to small, I hid my purse under a laundry basket and watched two questionable and slightly dirty middle aged men walk in with their clothes baskets.

I immediately bristled, and not simply because one of them attempted the poorest of all pick up lines, but because something just didn’t feel right.

About a half an hour into my clothes sudsing & spinning, and my eyes constantly watching, another pair of men walked in.  They were younger, thinner, African-American and missing something…
laundry.

They sat silently and watched me.  They never spoke to each other or the other men in the laundromat, occasionally they would shift in their seat or creep closer, always watching.  Being the somewhat brassy chick I can be, I thought of going over to them and asking why they would be hanging out in a laundromat with no laundry, but then a scene from the movie “Crash” came to mind… where Ludacris and his cohort hear a white woman lock her doors as they walk by, and comment on racism…

I didn’t want that to be me.  Truth be told, of the four men around me, I didn’t know who I was more skeptical of… so I said nothing but a quick prayer, and just kept watching my purse while sliding quarters in the SpeedQueens.

Out of nowhere, the spunkiest of all red-heads since Lucy herself came parading through the front door with her sweet hubby…my good friends Bobbi and Mike who I hadn’t seen in months!  I had sent a quick shot of the laundromat to Bobbi awhile back thinking she might want to use the vintage washers as a photo backdrop for one of her & Mike’s amazing engagement sessions.

In what I considered perfect timing, they stopped to check it out as I was tossing lavender softener sheets into the last loads.  We chatted and giggled for no more than ten minutes, and as they walked, well…as Mike walked and Bobbi danced out the door, I turned to go back in with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

The teenagers were gone, and so was my purse.  I shakily dumped out the contents of my baskets, looked under every countertop and then called 911 in a panic. After hanging up, I dialed Bobbi and Mike right away and told them to come back and drive around to see if they could help.  Four patrol cars and their SUV sped in every direction around the laundromat as I, panicked and tearful, gave a description to the officer who came my way.

Immediately the two older men came to my rescue, they talked to the officer, offered me sweet support and encouragement, and then things got even crazier…

I immediately called my beloved friend Rochelle and told her to fill my house church in so they could get to prayin’ real quick.  As the chain of prayer heated up, I calmed down.  Losing my purse wasn’t the end of the world, but it sure was upsetting… my keys, my wallet, complete with cash, checks, debit card, credit card, etc.  all were in the hands of three someones I’d like to call something worse than “hooligans.”

Bobbi called.  They found them.
We both called 911 and the officers sped to the location as Bobbi & Mike stayed close and kept me updated.

The officer tried to comfort me, saying that many times the suspects take the cash and discard the rest of someone’s belongings in an alley as they run, and many times those belongings are recovered.  She gave me a card with my case number, her name, and some advice as to how to cancel my debit card before joining her other IPD officers in an arrest of these men.

I shakily called my mom, the bank, Capitol One… and then I noticed a homeless man outside the door watching me with kind eyes.  Dirty, unshaven, with about six teeth and a greasy gray ponytail hanging past his shoulders.  He had listened intently to every word I exchanged with the officer, and with stumbling speech he looked right at me, and promised to do his best to help.  I somewhat shrugged it off as he sped away on his bicycle.

The crime-fighting duo of Sheridan & Belschner called to tell me they were watching two of the men get arrested, but the third gentleman, who I had only seen for  quick second, and was most likely the one who snatched my purse, was getting away.  I called the dispatcher again to fill her in, while Officer Temple came back to pick me up so she could drive me a few blocks away to ID the men they’d arrested.

Right as Officer Temple’s patrol car parked in front of the laundromat, the homeless man screeched his bike to a halt right in front of me.  Those six dirty teeth were stretched into an ear to ear smile, as he handed me my purse!

He had ridden up and down every single street and alleyway until he found what was left of my stuff dumped in a heap.  He gathered everything together and tucked it back inside the purse, riding back in a fury to return it to me… and return feeling like a hero.

I nearly toppled him over with a hug so strong, the only thing stronger was the speed of my tears.  I turned to see the other gentleman, Sean and Gary, trying to hide their tears as well.  Officer Temple got out of her vehicle and thanked him, letting him know that he had done a “great thing” that day.

I fumbled through the contents, noting that the only thing missing was my checks and cash, my keys and wallet and everything else was intact!  Officer Temple took off, and I heaved a huge sigh of relief and turned around.

Sean and Gary stood as my protectors, asking me if I was okay and if I had enough money to finish my laundry since my cash had been stolen.  I assured them that I would be alright, but they didn’t take my word for it.

Fishing through the pockets of their worn-out pants, they each handed me a crumpled ten dollars.
I refused to accept it.
I told them that they had done enough by being my guardian angels that day.  Gary tucked the money into my closed fist while Sean said to me “It’s not about being a guardian angel, it’s about being a human, a human being who wants to do the right thing.”

While a foaming wave of humility washed over me, my eyes again welled up as I thanked them, and with that Gary carried all of my laundry baskets out to my car and gently placed them in the backseat.  They told me to be more careful, that it was okay if I went home and cried, and that mostly they were glad that I was okay and sorry they didn’t do anything to prevent what had happened.  My meager offering of another “Thank You” was again eeked out, and with that I drove home.

As a full-time waitress with a second job, I work hard for every dollar I earn, and having someone greedily steal it and use my money as their own infuriated me, but I think that I would have paid more than what was in my wallet for the lesson that I learned yesterday.

A man with no more to his name than an old bike and a dingy t-shirt full of holes was able to swell with pride, receive a warm hug and an honorable handshake, and two down -n- outs sacrificed to take care of a stranger.

I hope I never forget that I should be more careful and aware, but more importantly, I now have a wallet stuffed with twenty crumpled, dirty dollars to remind me that sometimes God uses the most humble to humble us.

washer

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One Response

  1. beautiful.

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