Dirty Laundry


Wednesday, January 29, 1969

Every Wednesday Mama-San delivered our washed laundry.  It was neatly folded and dry most of the time (sometimes slightly damp).  Usually I turned in two sets of utilities and socks.  I had given up wearing skivvies since my 25-day stint in Thuong Duc last July. *

Today I asked Hua to interpret the laundry transaction with Mama-San.  This would be the last delivery.  I explained I was leaving next week and thanked her for the excellent service she had provided.  She responded with a silent stare, and there was no acknowledgment of what I was saying.  Our talk ended abruptly as she got up and left.

Hua said, “Not how it works in Vietnam.”  He explained that I must promise to come back.  This was some sort of cultural issue.  It had something to do with saying goodbye forever was not acceptable.  “Just say I come back . . . It not a lie if in your heart.  It is our way.”

This was a dilemma for me.  My thought process was too black and white.  In my heart I knew I was not coming back, but I would always think of Mama-San as a friend.  It was like playing emotional charades, and I wasn’t good at it.

* See previous blog, “WP Air Bursts” July 4, 1968

Next Edition:  Time Zones

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