I had nothing to occupy the time, so I read the back of the laundry soap box.
by Marilyn Mackenzie
When a friend asked recently about what most inspired me to write, I explained that my most creative times happen right after my early morning ritual. Sitting on my porch as the sun rises, watching the squirrels romp and listening to the birds sing inspires me. Reading God’s instruction manual makes my heart sing and the creative juices flow. And reading the writings of great authors of old, or the ponderings of writers here at Writing.com can be inspirational as well.
Today, I read something about the importance of being thankful and kind. That reminded me of an incident that happened a few years ago as I was busy doing the laundry.
I lived in Central Florida then, in a mobile home situated on an acre of land. The lots were pie shaped, the homes located on the front, narrow portion of the land. (That meant our homes were close together on the cul-de-sac, but our back yards were the larger portion of the pie-shaped lots.) My backyard abutted a huge commercial orange grove, giving the feeling of unlimited space.
At the back of our property was a huge barn, with an air-conditioned apartment tucked inside. Half way between our residence and the barn was the laundry shed.
Having the laundry shed so far from the house and the barn was sometimes quite inconvenient. So was making numerous trips back and forth to the house. I installed a small fan, so at least the Florida heat would be circulating as I waited for the laundry to finish. Sometimes I took a book to read or a pen and notebook so I could write. I knew my spouse and child wouldn't bother me there, lest they be asked to help.
One day, as I waited for the last load to finish drying, I realized that I hadn't remembered to bring something to help occupy the time. So, I picked up the box of laundry soap to read the back of the box. (Yes, I do read cereal boxes at breakfast if there’s nothing else to read.)
Imagine my surprise to find the back of the laundry soapbox filled with "The Laundry Gazette." Seriously, there were jokes and quips and cartoons about doing laundry and cleaning the house, along with some laundry tips. The cartoons really tickled my funny bone, and I decided I had to contact the soap company and tell them so.
I'd always been a consumer who complained – kindly – when a product didn't meet my expectations. Once, when sports drinks first hit the stores, I purchased one for my son. He handed it to me without opening it, saying it looked "yucky." "Yucky" wasn't the word for it. It actually looked like a failed science experiment, or that some living creature was floating in the bottle. A soda company made the drink. I complained – nicely – and soon the district manager was at my door to collect the bottle. In exchange, he left two cases of soda. Complaining – kindly – does have its rewards.
But now I had a compliment for the makers of the laundry soap. There was no address on the box, but there was a toll free phone number. I slipped into the barn apartment to use the phone there.
I told the customer service representative that the soap performed admirably, but that I was calling about the wonderful "Laundry Gazette" on the back of the box. Amy asked me what I enjoyed most, and we giggled together about one of the cartoons. Then she transferred me to her supervisor and later to a Vice President. She told me that they didn't often receive compliments and she wanted to pass on the blessing to others.
I got the company’s address so my pleasure with their product and packaging could be documented. They took my address down as well, telling me to expect a surprise in the mail. I figured they would send a coupon for a free box of soap.
Back to the laundry chore I went, and was a bit perturbed at myself for taking so long. The clothes had dried and had already started to wrinkle.
A week later, an envelope did arrive from the soap company. Imagine my surprise when I opened it and found inside a $25 gift certificate to my local grocery store.
Being thankful and kind has many rewards. Sometimes, it’s just that good feeling you get inside because you've done or said something nice. Sometimes, the rewards are even greater.