Error Dirty Laundry

This is a short story that is completely true as I remember it. It was told to me by the parties involved about 2.5 years ago. I’m writing here because I never want to forget it and I would love to share it.


Trying to be a gentleman can be a stressful situation. Every moment with a guest receives a bit more attention than it really deserves and can be distracting for conversation. Doors for instance:  Does the door I’m trying to open push out or pull in? How far away are we from the door, and should I ignore what this person is saying and make a mad dash to try and open, only to find out that it opens out so then I stand partially in the door while holding it, making it a bit of a tight squeeze? Or do I just walk-through and open it, but first I have to leave the conversation to sprint ahead? Do the same rules apply at a business meeting (equal treatment) or should courtesy be extended to everybody here? Is it awkward that I squeezed through a door with my boss and chest bumped with no cause for celebration?

It can be stressful. And awkward. But there is one gentlemanly situation where it’s not either of these things: taking out the trash. With that said, onto the story.

Three years ago I had the great pleasure of meeting all of my wife’s friends and boyfriends. All of them lovely, successful people who have been friends for over 10 years. While out one night, a story of a friend that lives out of town was shared.

Their friend is a very independent woman who loves to do everything on her own, and is great at creating meaningful friendships. She moved to a big city by herself, prides herself in maintaining every part of her life, and supports herself in nearly every way.

Except when it comes to laundry.

During the story it came out that this independent woman was not a fan of laundry and would go through great lengths to not do it.  Friends from her hometown would visit quite often and it was understood that, as a friend, that if you visited her you had to bring a bag of her dirty laundry back home for her mom to take care of. Then, when the next friend would come to visit they would swing by the independent woman’s parents house, pick up the trash bag of laundry, and bring it back to her.  The ultimate “fluff and fold“. This woman loved her clothes. Every piece meant something to her and no laundromat was going to ruin her things.

It went on like this for months. Visitors would come, have a great time, and comeback with dirty clothes. The next trip, friends would stop by the parents house and pick-up the clean laundry on their way to visit.

The independent woman has some amazing friends. And one of those amazing friends has a very gentlemanly boyfriend…

The latest excursion to visit the laundry queen went as it usually went, except a much larger than usual load of dirties was sent back in 2 bags. No problem, put it in the car, give it to the mom and all was magically taken care of. A few weeks later a visit was planned, but there was a slight change.

The independent woman’s parents were going out of town the day before so they had to drop the laundry off with the friends that were about to visit their daughter. Awesome, the friends no longer had to make a stop in the morning and their trip just got simpler. All they had to do was to remember to bring the clean laundry on their way to the car in the morning.

With the extra time available, the friends (who are also roommates) decided to do a spring cleaning and start getting their place in shape. They even had the extra help of the gentlemanly boyfriend. Together they kicked the crap out of the place and got into shape. They went through every drawer, cupboard,  and room gathering everything that wasn’t needed and ready to be trashed. Tired and wanting to be ready for the trip in the morning everybody headed to sleep.

(alarm…it’s 6 a.m…shhhhhh)

The boyfriend is up and ready for work. He’s quite as can be trying not to make a sound so that his girlfriend and her friend will get enough sleep for their trip. He makes his way through the apartment, takes out the trash, and is off to the local grocery store to pick-up something for his lunch.

(cellphone call from his girlfriend)

  • Girlfriend: Hey!
  • Boyfriend: Hey, good morning,
  • Girlfriend: Did you mess with the bags by the door?
  • Boyfriend: Yeah, I took them out when I left this morning. They’re in the dumpster.
  • Girlfriend: THE COMPACTOR!!!!???
  • Boyfriend: Yeah, we had all the stuff we cleaned up last night. I wanted to help out.
  • Girlfriend: SHIT! Independent Woman’s clothes were in trash bags by the door!!! We hadn’t put them in the car yet…
  • Boyfriend: OH NO! Doesn’t the compactor start every time you close the hatch.

The independent woman was not a happy camper.

All of her favorite clothes were gone, because you only wash the clothes you wear.

On a positive note, she is much more independent.

(because this is the song that comes to mind when I think of this story…it’s very independent)

Beyonce – “Single Ladies”

The Innovative Chronicles – 001: Sittin’ on the porch, eating sausage, sippin’ on a cup of juice, laid back…

On a whim and after many elaborate vacation plans fell through with my wife, I decided that we needed to take refuge at the greatest place on earth. A place where the pancakes flow like wine and Canasta is the game choice. It’s a little place I like to call Grandma and Grandpa’s lake house in North Carolina. It’s a vacation home for most residents, but for my two retired, beautiful grandparents they call it home all year long. This is where I go to take a step back and think about where I am, and it’s always where I’m supposed to be (that’s an “ism” you’ll read about later).

Eight months-ish ago I was asked to be the first employee of an idea. It’s one of my new favorite stories to tell and I would like to share it. It may end up getting a bit deep, but I’ll probably save that for later posts.  So anyway…

It was a Friday at 4:50pm at my office. I was cleaning up my work from the week and getting ready for the weekend. It was perfect; my email was all read, my bags were all packed, and I was just about to head out. Just one last look at my email before I closeout. Oh, I missed one…from my boss’ boss.

Received email: 4:51pm –Are you still in the office?

This didn’t hit me at the time as too crazy, but it should of. My current boss at the time was out of town and this email was from her boss. I replied , “I am. What can I do for you?” I was thinking she left her purse in her office and needed somebody to run it downstairs or something. I clicked send.

Received email: 4:52pm – When you have a moment can you come down to Sean’s office and meet?

Ummm, yes, yes I can. That’s not what I typed, but she was asking for me to meet with her, her boss, and then the CTO, so you say yes. I’m not a fan of this sentence. It’s how people expect you to sound when you’re meeting with the “big cheese” or when you talk about great opportunities that knock, but to be honest I think I’m too dense to see great opportunities. They have to force feed themselves to me.  What I actually wrote was, “Sure I can come down, no problem.” I was thinking we were going to talk about a small project I was going to help with. I was wrong.

Received email: 4:53pm – Don’t worry it’s good.

The possibility of it being bad didn’t even cross my mind. It should have. It was nearing 5pm on a Friday and we had actually let some people go just a couple weeks prior to this. This is typically a, “you’re nice and all, but we got to let you go type of meeting.” I think I’m more worried of why it didn’t even cross my mind that it could of been bad.

I headed down to the office ready to chat about some projects. I sit down and chat for a minute with two of the bosses waiting on the CTO to arrive. Then he comes in and says, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” I said, ”Oh, yeah?”  Epic right! Well at the time it was lost on me. This is probably the third time I had ever spoken with him and he’s known to be a bit of joker.  In my mind he was just pulling my leg right before we talked about another project I would be working on that would probably involve documentation.

He then starts to tell me about this amazing week he had in Sweden working with a school called Hyper Island and all the higher-ups of our parent company. He told me about the week and what they went through, and he then mentioned an idea he had for an innovation lab that would work inside the parent company, but act independently and create startups. This lab would take the company in new directions. In my words, it would turn the parent company into a Googlish type of company working on awesome things that will truly have an impact on people’s lives. His boss gave him a verbal confirmation to go ahead and start this new program while they were still in Sweden. Five days later I’m now sitting in his office.

His next move was looking for his first employee. He said, “I’m not sure if it will involve getting coffee or managing a team, but I’ve heard good things about you and the job is yours to loose. I’ll be out of town for 2 weeks and we’ll see what you do while I’m gone.” That’s it. That’s the direction they gave me to go in. I was one of the lowest level employees at a subsidiary company of a $26 billion parent company. It was now my job to do whatever I could to get this thing rolling while still keeping my old position 50% of the time and working on the new opportunity the other 50%. With that, I went.  I said, “um, oh, Thank you, ok.” Stunned and bewildered, I left the room. I got about 15 feet from the door and it dawned on me I hadn’t shook their hands, I hadn’t been as gracious as I would of hoped, oh man. I turned around and knocked on the door and said, “I’m sorry. I have to shake your hands. I’m just shocked a bit. Thank you thank you.”

What just happened? Innovation lab? Startups?

In disbelief I still look back on this day. It really did change my life. It’s been the most fun and the hardest job I’ve ever had. I stole that line from my new boss, Sean. I’ve had to try and be a leader, continue to be a follower, and all around try to serve everybody around me. It’s a lot of balls in the air and the hardest part seems to be getting real feedback and having the confidence to realize that whatever is going on, it’s working.

I’ve had a lot of jobs ranging all over the place, but this one has them beat for the things I’ve learned and for the amount of heart I’ve put into my work. I got my wish and I really appreciate all of those for putting faith in me: Kasey, Colleen, Sean and my old boss that helped me grow and worked with me on everything, Kristine.  All of my life’s random experiences have truly been wrapped up in this job. And to refer back that “Gma’ism” from earlier, I am where I’m supposed to be.

I have so many other things I would like to share about this experience. I’ll keep this story running every few days, probably once a week. Just do a search for  “The Innovative Chronicles.”