Overtime. Again. The long hours at my new job would make my paycheck look good but my feet were screaming a different story. Groaning as I leaned into the massive laundry basket, I pulled up another terry cloth towel. The smell of bleach and disinfectant waft through the air, though you’d have thought my nose would be desensitized by now.
Northwest Health Care Linens was a brand spanking new industrial sized Laundromat specializing in towels and linens for health care facilities. The powers that be were soliciting their services to every nursing home in the county. I had been hired, along with a slew of others, before they had even officially opened their doors. I had learned about sorting laundry, washing laundry, drying laundry, folding laundry and stacking it. At the end of two weeks my boss pulled me aside and said he was promoting me to shipping. I, along with another young woman named Betsy, would be in charge of inventory and billing. What this really meant was “count the sheets and towels as you load them in the shipping carts.”
On this particular day, as Betsy and I worked our way through a batch of towels, we chatted and joked about the nickname we’d been given by Harlan, our boss. He had dubbed us the “Money Honeys” since our shrewd counting was how billing would be determined.
Growing warm, I wiped my brow with the sleeve of my sweatshirt and spotted Harlan, strolling through the factory with some men in suits.
“More administrators.” mused Betsy.
For days now, we’d had visitors checking out our services, deciding if they were going to outsource their laundry needs to us.
"Look lively” I murmured. “They’re coming this way.”
“And this gentlemen, is where the laundry gets prepped for shipping.” Harlan was swaggering again. Betsy and I exchanged surreptitious looks. We had already concluded that most of the time our boss was a pompous boor but he did respond nicely to pretty girls with friendly smiles.
Tired and a tad impatient, I slumped against the cart as Harlan took this opportunity to explain the shipping process in detail. One of the men caught my eye and offered me a pleasant smile.
“So are you in charge here?” He cocked his head to one side, indicating a playfulness that tugged at me. Maybe it was the weariness from all the overtime but my inner child was instantly awake.
“Yup!” I crowed. “They call us the Money Honeys and we most definitely run this place.” I winked at Betsy. Chuckles rippled across the group.
Suddenly, I remembered that under my faded sweatshirt, I was wearing a T-shirt my children had gifted me with last Mother’s Day. It featured a cartoon figure of a red-faced mama duck, wielding a rolling pin, with the words “Because I’m the Boss, that’s why!” printed on it.
“In fact," I continued, hitting my stride, “I am the boss!” I grasped the corners of my sweatshirt,and yanked it up to display my T shirt, and drive the point home.
Static was extremely prevalent that afternoon.
Harlan’s entourage were treated, not to my cute t-shirt, but to a Secret previously only known to Victoria and me.
Absolute silence followed in the longest split second in history as I realized what I had just done. Was doing.
Horrified, mortified, I tried desperately to rectify it by separating the T from the sweatshirt, gasping as I pulled it down, “My shirt! --- My shirt says I’m the boss!”
That they thanked me as they backed away was of no comfort.
I would have dived into the laundry cart if I believed it would have helped. With the men gone, Betsy began to snicker. Snort. Guffaw. By the time she was hooting I had joined in. What else could I do?
As we finally settled down and were wiping the tears from our eyes, Harlan returned.
“Now that your face has returned to a normal shade, Debbie, I thought you might like to know who those men were.” His portentousness was nowhere in sight.
“Not really.” I muttered, waiting for the ax to fall.
“Well the tall one is the man who owns this place. In fact he’s the one who signs your paycheck!” Harlan grinned, “I bet you’ll get a raise.”
And leaving me to ponder my gaffe further, he strolled back to his office.
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