Thread Tools Display Modes
Prev Previous Post   Next Post Next
Old 09-13-2017, 01:17 PM
choie choie is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Like me it never sleeps.
Posts: 4,704
Laundry Disaster, aka how to get over mourning something childish?

Warning: long, rambling, bloggy post and immaturity below.

I don't know how to write this in a way that doesn't make me sound crazy, which makes sense since I know I am. So I guess I'll just state upfront that I know this is trivial and unimportant to everyone in the world but me.

As I've documented elsewhere, I have cluttering/hoarding issues that were in... well, I don't know if "remission" is the right word, since it's not a disease, but I've controlled them and maintained a decent level of cleanliness in my home. That control broke apart starting this year, which has been one of the worst in my life after losing my brother-in-law.

Anyway I hired a cleaning company again to help me get rid of shit and deep clean the place, and while it was stressful (as it was the first time), they did a wonderful job. Along with the mess, though, there was a matter of (sorry to gross you out) a moth infestation. Part of the company's job was to take any clothing/bedding and freeze them, which would destroy any leftovers bugs and clean them.

I also have a collection of stuffed animals--not huge, about a dozen, but among these are four that are very nostalgic and important for me. They were given to me by my parents almost a half-century ago, and playing with them was a major part of my childhood. I was a sad kid and the animals, especially one stuffed bear I (very originally) called Pooh, were my partners in imaginary adventures that helped me through lonely times.

The cleaners strongly recommended that the animals needed freezing and to be cleaned as well. I was reluctant because of the age of the "Big Four," as I call the main ones I had since childhood (the others are just trinkets/gifts I've picked up over the years).

But the head cleaner assured me and reassured me that they'd be treated gently, and that they needed the service. This wasn't costing me any more money, btw, so it's not like they were pushing me to pay extra. I was also under the impression that the materials would all be frozen, not washed as well. (I thought washing was my job once I got the bags back.)

Anyway I agreed, because I thought they might be harboring icky stuff and it could be harming them. The guys took all of the animals and put 'em in a separate plastic bag, like the rest of the laundry.

Over and over again for the rest of the day I had doubts, and I asked/re-asked the head cleaner to please, please make sure that he marked the bag of stuffed animals as needing very gentle handling. He was very compassionate and promised to do so. I felt confident. (First warning sign. I never feel confident.)

The apartment looks fantastic and I felt amazing for the first few days. It was like getting a whole new place to live. It wasn't until the laundry got back that I discovered that, after having worked hard to throw away tons of crap I didn't want, I'd accidentally lost stuff I did.

This Monday, I got all four bags/125 lbs(!) of laundry back. Everything looked great. When I took out the bag of stuffed animals, however, precisely four items were missing: the Big Four.

My heart sunk and I called the laundry service that was listed on the ticket. This was an outsourced job, apparently--the clutter cleaners send laundry to other folks. When I asked about the missing items, the woman said glibly, "Oh, one of the toys broke, so I threw it out."

Shocked/horrified, I asked about the other three, and she insisted no, it was just one, she'd done it herself. I said isn't it possible they were put in a different laundry bundle by accident? She said not likely but she'd check. By now I was getting some of my anger out from under the shock and said, rather lamely, "For future reference, if something like this happens, you shouldn't just throw out someone else's property." She said okay and she'd check and hung up.

Now more shocked/horrified plus angry as well, I called my cleaning company directly. Speaking to a manager, I related the story, explained that I'd said many times that these items should be treated delicately and had been reassured about that. I also said that this laundry woman wasn't telling the truth because there was more than one animal missing.

BTW I was not hysterical or anything, I was pretty much just conversational in tone. (My sister, who was listening to me, was frustrated that I wasn't showing more anger. I just didn't think showing rage to this manager would be helpful, it wasn't her fault. Also I didn't want to come across as any crazier than I already probably did for caring about some stuffed animals.)

To the credit of the manager, she took my complaint seriously and after learning what the laundry person had said, was a bit indignant. "No, that's just wrong. She shouldn't destroy your property, why didn't she at least put it in a bag for you? This is your stuff, she should also be talking reimbursement." I was grateful for her commiseration and reiterated that the laundry was also claiming it was just one item, and I knew there were three more missing. She said "I'll call her."

Very long story short: I haven't heard back. And I know the other stuffed animals were obviously destroyed too, so there's really nothing that can be done. But for the past two days I've been unreasonably low and depressed and angry. I have the following issues:

1. I'm furious with myself for being so careless with items that mattered to me so dearly. I know they are childish and I'm 51 and I shouldn't care about stuffed animals. But they mattered. I'm an overly nostalgic person anyway who can anthropromphize a matchbook if I happen to find something cute about it, and I find it difficult to throw stuff out in the best of times (obviously or I wouldn't have cluttering relapses). So why in God's name did I trust the most nostalgic items I have with this cleaning company??? Just because of some possible moths? I should've had them cleaned by a specialist if that was my wish. I should've followed my instincts when I was uneasy about their not being treated delicately. I'm so fucking mad at myself I could spit.

2. I'm angry at the laundry woman, who IMHO made several errors in judgment/professionalism:

a) She lied and claimed only one animal was destroyed. Unless the other three animals decided to run away to save themselves, Toy Story-like, those guys were absolutely lost by this laundry.

b) She destroyed a delicate stuffed toy that should have been treated delicately since its age was obvious. If you're a professional laundry worker, I'm guessing you can estimate what'll survive a laundry cycle and what won't. Ideally she should've put the pieces aside and contacted me to make sure this was what I wanted.

c) She threw the animal(s) out. Not leaving them in a separate bag so that maybe I could have them fixed. Just tossed someone else's possessions into the trash.

d) She didn't even include a note about these missing items in the laundry receipt. Now admittedly I don't send my laundry out to be cleaned very often, but is this normal? Does a cleaner just ignore clothing that was ruined and pretend it never existed, in some hopes that the client won't notice?!

e) Not once did she even say she was sorry. I guess she felt that would have been admitting wrongdoing and would make me, I dunno, sue her? It may seem petty to care that she never apologized for any of the above issues, but it just compounds the grievance to me, somehow. I lost some very nostalgic items. Attention must be paid.

3) I'm very sad. I've lost a lot of real people I loved in my life; there's been more tragedy than is our fair share. This year has been particularly stressful. My widowed sister is still broken after the sudden loss, and I'm trying to support her as best I can, which is difficult considering I suffer from depression and am feeling pretty worthless at the best of times. I also just miss my parents very much right now, and am in the middle of writing a book that's very autobiographical involving a family tragedy just before I was born and my mom's reaction to it--and this is bringing up a lot of sorrow too. Frankly, the election didn't help either. So, in short, I really didn't fucking need this shit on top of everything else. I'm in a very low, scary place.

Whew. I'm just venting. I know there's nothing to be done. The cleaning company hasn't gotten back to me, as mentioned, so I'm assuming they got in touch with the laundry and were told "no, we don't know what happened to your crazy client's toys, who gives a fuck" and thus had nothing to tell me.

So I don't know what to do. Should I call the cleaners again to see if they checked with the laundry after all? Should I write a bad Yelp review for the laundry? I don't know.

I guess there's nothing to do. These animals had no value except to me, and to a slightly lesser extent my sisters. I can't imagine asking for reimbursement, especially because putting a price to these four stuffed animals seems ridiculous (even though to me they were so precious).

And yet I'm left with this incredible sadness. I understand they weren't alive and they couldn't feel pain. But I have this horrible guilt, as if they thought I didn't care about them and just tossed them away. (Yes, I know how cuckoo this sounds. I KNOW THEY WERE NOT SENTIENT.) As I said at the beginning, I'm so angry with myself for not following my instincts and being so careless. I can't escape the responsibility of having sent these things to their deaths.

I just can't believe this part of my childhood is gone. When I was a kid I slept with Pooh hugged close to me until I was 13, then he'd just sit on my bed but was still a fixture there. I didn't take him to college, but he was still home and a fond sight for me, especially after my mom got sick and died when I was 19. I never thought I'd lose him, and most especially I never ever thought I'd be the one to recklessly, unthinkingly, hand him over to be destroyed.

It's not entirely possible that part of my mourning is leftover grief from losing my brother-in-law/friend a year ago; or even residual grief for my parents.

I guess all this writing devoted to what most will call a dumb toy is ridiculous. But I'm feeling impotent and angry and sad and I needed to express it. I'm tired of loss.

Sorry. Snark away. It's my fault and I'm to blame, and no 51-year-old loser should care about stuffed animals. I know it.

Last edited by choie; 09-13-2017 at 01:20 PM.


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:53 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017