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Giddens: Coming clean on life lessons
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Donna and I have rejoined the 21st century.

No more weekly trips to the Laundromat: We've bought a washer and dryer.

Our little cottage in the woods dates from about 1950, and the washer and dryer connections apparently were added later to the workshop on the carport. The washer has to go in at an angle to fit, but it works.

It's hot out there, the spiders are scary, and there's no room to fold clothes, even if you wanted to in a sweltering, confined space, but I'm not complaining.

I don't have to go anywhere to do laundry.

I learned to enjoy such small pleasures as washing and drying clothes at my own home long ago.

My dad was a subtle master of such life lessons when I was a self-absorbed teen. He had a home appliance repair and sales business and he'd make sure to send me on the more challenging delivery excursions.

I can't say these are lessons I've used every day, but they've certainly never been forgotten. One such trip involved bringing a washing machine and running a water line into a shotgun shanty.
It was hot, still and the gnats were out in force. I sweated and whined.

But I watched, and I learned, too.

The woman who lived there was in a simple dress and military boots and was incredibly appreciative to have such a luxury in her home.

One of her children was on a couch, reading a true crime novel that I would have turned my pretentious literary nose up at, but Dad noted as we were driving away how great it was that she was reading.

Another excursion involved the delivery and installation of a trash compactor, a gift to a couple from their children.

There was no such show as "Hoarders" airing at the time, but this couple would have been perfect for an intervention.

We had the compactor on hand trucks and went up the concrete steps and knocked. The man who greeted us at the door was affable.

And then I saw a small roach in his thinning hair. I don't know if it was better or worse that the bug was dead.

What else do you say, but hello?

Inside, newspaper had been laid on the floor where you'd walk. There were pets in the house and they'd lay a fresh layer of paper down as needed to cover their mess and bones.

Bugs crawled, flies buzzed. The stench was unbearable.

And there was this friendly guy making small talk with a roach in his hair.

We went about our business and completed the delivery and installation in record time.

Dad had said nothing in advance, and when we got back, he just looked at us and grinned.

There were lessons to be learned that day:
- People can find creative ways to use newspapers.
- A trash compactor is no substitute for a can of Raid.
- You can't fix someone with something.
- It's hard to look someone in the eye and have a conversation when they have a roach hanging from a forelock.

Tharon Giddens is editor of The Covington News. Reach him at (678) 750-5011 or at