Here’s something you may not know about me.   I’m not much of a fighter.  I can argue with the best of them, but fights?  Not really a fan.

So almost coming to blows with a woman in my building’s laundry room?  Sounds a bit like a scene from a bad sit-com when I write it down, but it actually happened.  Tonight. To me.

Here’s the scene.  After having dinner out at a local restaurant, we walked back home in the pouring rain and were all pretty wet upon arriving home.  We offered our guest a pair of sweatpants and I put his jeans and Ben’s wet clothes in the dryer down in our laundry room.

Approximately 30 minutes later, I went down to add a pair of socks and some time to the drying cycle, and when I opened the dryer I discovered a pen among the clothes.  It had not exploded, but had left a lovely blue decoration on Ben’s shorts.  I took it out and set it at the end of one of the tables on which people fold their clothes, intending to see if it was ruined after putting more time on the dryer.

A young-ish woman who was folding her clothes at the same table said, “Can you move that please?”   I said, “Yep, just a second and I’ll move it.”  To which she responded in a tone that can only be described as withering, “Can you move it NOW?  I don’t want it near my clean clothes.”   I shut the dryer, turned, took the pen and said, “I’ve got it, ok?  It wasn’t near your clothes.”  The pen was ruined so I threw it away, and while I was doing that she said, “Show a little consideration,”  in that same lovely tone.

Ok, fine.  I shut the dryer door with some force and started to leave the room, but halfway to the door she yelled out, “Bitch!”

And that did it.

Before coherent, non-violent rationale could enter my brain I turned and walked back over to her, stopping about 3 inches from her face.

“What makes you think you can call me a bitch?”  I said.   She smirked and said, “I can’t hear you,” waving at her earbuds leading to an iPod.   So I reached up and yanked them out of her ears.  ”Can you hear me now?”

She went nuts.  ”Don’t you touch me!”    And then the exchange went something like this (with the two of us literally nose to nose):

Me:  ”I didn’t touch you.”

Her:  ”You touched something that is a part of me!”

Me:  ”Your earbuds are physically a part of your body?”

Her: “You back off right now or else!”

Me:  ”F*#k you.”

And I walked out, because if I hadn’t it would have escalated, and I knew that would be very bad news.

Ok, so this was not my finest moment and I do not generally condone such behavior.  Not to mention that since we live in the same building it could make for some really unpleasant elevator rides in the future.  Normally I would have just rolled my eyes and kept walking.

So what was different tonight?  Well, for one thing she took me off guard.   I had smiled in her direction and made some comment about blue highlights on Ben’s shorts when I pulled out the pen.  (Guess she couldn’t hear me because of the earbuds.)   The vitriol with which she responded was unexpected.   And also, just every now and then I don’t feel like being diplomatic when someone attacks me.  On rare occasions, the benefit of the doubt eludes me.

When I came back upstairs and told my husband and my kids what had happened, they were immediately ready to close ranks and defend me, if necessary.  Honestly, I think they were all kind of proud of me.  Not for losing my temper but for standing up for myself.   And even though fighting truly doesn’t solve anything (and makes you feel rotten in the aftermath) I want my kids to be kind but not doormats.  In this case, this woman and I had a minor run in one other time, when she was apparently “reserving” all the top row of dryers with dryer sheets, and I didn’t see one of them so put my clothes in on top of it.  She got all huffy and relinquished the dryer with a sneer.

Apparently she has laundry issues.

My family knew about the earlier incident – that it had upset me but I’d not reacted – so I think they all felt it was ok that I’d called her on this one.   Bless them.

Confrontation is exhausting.  Peace everyone, and good night.

About Amy

Amy Milstein was born and raised on a farm in Indiana, but after 20+ years considers herself a full-fledged New Yorker. She is married with two kids, who do not go to school but are instead life learners. This means they learn by living in the world (real life ) instead of hearing about it and simulating it in a classroom. With her family, Amy loves to travel, read, watch movies, write, sew, knit - the list is endless.
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