The day before Thanksgiving was my usual Wednesday Laundry day. I threw in a load of whites in the laundry room at the end of my building. As I was coming back up the walk, I saw this girl standing by the mailboxes and she seemed agitated or drugged or both, so I asked her if there was anything I could do to help her.
I said it in my best authoritative voice so that "May I Help You?" really sounded more like "You had better feel me depressing your pretensions and get out of here."
She answered that she was trying to get her sister's mail out of box #8 but that someone had punched the lock out. She was so distressed and I could see the telltale signs of Methamphetamine use in her face. I also saw that she had a very nice linen fabric scarf wound around her neck and one of the nicest big satchel style cloth bags at her feet. Because I was looking at her bag, I didn't really take a good look at the rest of her.
I told her that she should call the Landlord and he could get her mail for her, or talk to her sister.
I then left and came upstairs to grab my other basket of clothes. I noticed she was still down there, banging around at the mailboxes and muttering. I had to sign for a package from UPS and then I went downstairs...and immediately perceived that the laundry room door was standing wide open.
Yes, the Crank Ho in the nice scarf and the lovely satchel had stolen my load of whites from the washing machine. She made off with pounds of white granny panties, size XXL, half a dozen pair of very soft nice cotton socks, washcloths, bras, white cotton feed sack dishtowels and my very lovely white silk kimono with the embroidery, which was inside a very nice mesh zippered laundry bag for delicates.
Gone, all gone. I came inside to call the landlord and the police and noticed that she had thoroughly trashed the mailboxes. She had punched the locks out of them and torn the mail into shreds and stuffed it willy-nilly into the cubbyholes for flyers and magazines.
Because this was no longer a robbery in progress, I called the non-emergency police phone number and got...of all things...an East Indian gentleman dispatcher.
Let us pause for a moment to consider the outsourcing of our police department phone calls to people who know English as a Second Language. Here is how the conversation went:
Me: I am calling to report a theft of laundry and a vandalism of the apartment complex mailboxes.
He: Did you see who did it?
Me: Yes, a woman with a Meth face, she was about 30 but looked 60, wearing a scarf around her neck and carrying a large, paisley cloth satchel in pinks and oranges with leather and cloth gusset handles.
He: You say she had scars on her neck?
Me: SCARVES, I tell you, SCARVES not scarfs.
He: And you say she could be anywhere between 30 and 60?
Me: No, I mean she had a Meth Face. You know, a Meth Face? She had that Meth User look to her. The cop will know what I mean.
He: So we have a female between 30 and 60 with scars around her face?
Me: SCARVES. Not Scars, SCARVES.
Suddenly, my brilliant brain kicked in: I have been an Indiaphile all my life. I watch Bollywood movies and Bollywood music videos. I wear Salwar Kameez. I own some sari's. What we had here was a translation problem, and I knew the exact word I needed to exchange for scarves.
Me: A Dupatti! She was wearing a Dupatti wound around and around her neck.
He: A DUPATTI! I understand! She had scars on her neck and was wearing a Dupatti to cover them!
Somewhere out there is a skinny crank ho in a duppati scarf toting around my wet underpants in a very lovely cloth satchel.
The police will never spot her because she does not have scars on her neck.