Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Picking up the kids -- and their laundry -- for the holiday

Yesterday was Parent-Teacher Conference Day at Long Suffering Spouse's school. Because of this, my wife had informing me for several weeks, at least, that yesterday it would be my job to pick up our two remaining collegians. They both live at their respective schools but, since the two schools are in the same nearby Chicago suburb, it's not exactly one of the Twelve Labors of Hercules.

My wife tells me these things well in advance so that there will be no mistaking whose fault it would be if something else got scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

The problem with being self-employed is that everyone thinks you work for no one and can therefore make your own schedule. Sometimes this is true. But this also means that when a client has a last-minute crisis, there's no one else to throw into the line.

Fortunately, all yesterday's crises could be handled by phone or email and were largely confined to the morning. I was thus available for my assigned chauffeuring task.

We are down to two cars these days, a van and a smaller four door Ford. Long Suffering Spouse insisted I take the van.

"Just to pick up two kids?" I protested.

"You'll see," she warned.

Younger Daughter began texting about noon: When are you coming to get me?

Younger Daughter admits that she texts a lot. She proudly displays her cell phone keyboard, in fact, to show that the writing on the buttons has been nearly worn off from overuse.

My plan was to pick up Middle Son and Younger Daughter (their schools are only a mile apart) at the same time, then take them home and be positioned to pick up Youngest Son when he called looking for a ride. So I responded that I had not heard from Middle Son yet. Then I texted him.

Curmudgeons shouldn't text. It is a frustrating exercise. My thumbs are too big and the keys are too small. But one does what one must to communicate.

Middle Son didn't surface until nearly 2:00pm. This was fine by me, although Younger Daughter was becoming increasingly agitated. He explained, later, that he had a 1:00pm class and couldn't call until afterward. This doesn't explain, of course, why he couldn't tell either Younger Daughter or me of his intentions before 1:00pm. But we all know he was sleeping until the last possible moment, don't we?

Finally, I was in the car, a half hour later than promised, with traffic heavier than I expected. But, eventually, I arrived at Middle Son's dorm.

Middle Son is about 6'4" and has long arms. These were fully extended when I saw him, straining to hold onto a laundry basket into which was stuffed a burgeoning sack that would do Santa proud on Christmas Eve. Middle Son was straining to see over the top of his burden, and he barely made it to the van. And he lifts weights. The wisdom of Long Suffering Spouse's direction was suddenly evident, even to me.

"It was nice of you," I told my son, "to volunteer to bring home laundry for every kid on your floor."

"Ha ha, Pops," said Middle Son, making it abundantly clear that he was not amused at all. He apparently doesn't like doing laundry at school. Somehow he had a semester's worth of clothes to wear. "I've been planning this a long time," he said.

"It looks like you've been planning it since the third grade," I told him.

After this mountain of laundry, the sack produced by Younger Daughter was something of an anticlimax. It was merely humongous. Of course, she can't lift as much weight as her brother.

And then she went back for more.

"You didn't get kicked out of the dorm, did you?" I asked.

"Da-ad," said Younger Daughter. "I only brought what I absolutely needed for the weekend. And my laundry."

I can't imagine what they'll be bringing home at Christmas when they both have nearly a month off. It was a struggle to dig down through all their stuff to the cans I was bringing to my wife's school for recycling yesterday, but we did.

Long Suffering Spouse made it home by about 9:00pm after her last conference. She was exhausted. I was already dozing. Middle Son and Younger Daughter were getting ready to go out....


The Beach Bum said...

Curmudgeon –

Good story!

We my younger daughter first went of to college (1988), we had the same (laundry) problem. But it was an 85 mile drive each way and I would pick her up on the holidays. The back seat was always full to the hilt. I finally broke down and bought her a car.

On the other hand my nephew (much to the chagrin of my sister and her husband) attended Triton College which was a 25 minute drive from their house in Berwyn. My brother-in-law wanted him to attend his Alma Mater, Loyola and live on campus.

Given the choice of doing his laundry 3 or 4 times a year or having him out of the house for 7 months a year, they would have preferred the later.

After two years at Triton he transferred to Loyola and lived on campus. He would bring his laundry home every other weekend. My sister didn’t really mind because now she didn’t have to pick up his clothes off of his bedroom floor before washing them.

The Beach Bum

Steve Skinner said...

Have you considered getting coin meters for the washer and dryer? Maybe you could make enough money during these visits to cover the additional cost associated with their visits.

Rob said...

Way off-topic, I know, but your statement, "Curmudgeons shouldn't text. It is a frustrating exercise. My thumbs are too big and the keys are too small. But one does what one must to communicate." raised my dander. Heaven forbid that a cellular telephone be used to, wait for it... making telephone calls.

I have little tolerance for the needless nuisance that is texting. Should you have a need to relay a message to me, just call and speak to me, dangit! Texting will cost each of us roughly a quarter - not to mention my priceless frustration. Speaking with me, however, is practically free and vastly more efficient!