The emperor — or at least this writer — has no clothes (well, fewer clothes) because somebody stole his laundry

Someone stole my laundry.

This seems amusing.

I think of the scene from “The Big Lebowski,” when Walter throws a bag full of his dirty underwear — the whites — to the supposed kidnappers of the Big Lebowski’s trophy wife.

What must my thief have thought when he yanked open the drawstring to find the wrinkled clothing of a big-and-tall man wadded up and awaiting prospering cleaning and folding?

I tore some cartilage in my left knee during the pandemic. Degenerative arthritis and morbid obesity combine to make walking and standing difficult for me.

So, I pay for a service to collect my laundry every two weeks.

The company washes and folds my clothes, hangs my shirts, and delivers them back to my sainted property manager, Pierce, who sets the clean clothes in my apartment.

I, or a friend, sets the bag out the night before the pickup. The bag is tucked in the corner of a brick wall inside the vestibule around the property manager’s door.

You wouldn’t come across the bag accidentally. You would have to be snooping around looking for something.

Why you would think a bag that weighs 50 pounds and says, “We Wash” on the outside would be worthy of thievery is beyond me.

Nonetheless, when the driver arrived Thursday to pick up my dirty clothes, the bag was gone.

I had hoped some well-meaning person had dragged the bag inside thinking it was an incoming package and not an outgoing one.

Alas, no.

Someone pilfered my laundry.

This discourages me on a couple fronts.

First, clothes for fat people cost more than clothes for other people.

A pair of basic khaki pants runs me $75. The special diabetic socks I wear cost $20 a piece and I had nearly two weeks’ worth of them in the bag.

One doesn’t buy their wardrobe all at once. You get it in pieces, over time, as you need something.

My wardrobe took a hit. I don’t know when I’ll make it whole.

Also, it’s hard to remember what was in the laundry and what wasn’t.

I’m sure I lost some Henley shirts. I’ve got a wardrobe full, so that’s no big deal.

A couple of comic book t-shirts are gone. Those are newish and easily replaced, not a rare back issue.

But the shirts I know were in there, the ones I’ll really miss, were three New York Yankees navy blue t-shirts.

The famous interlocking “NY” was screen printed over the heart in white.

They were size 6XL. I bought them all from a dealer on eBay. I haven’t been able to find them since.

Keep your comments about the size of my shirts to yourself. I know I’m fat. I know the health risks. I’m working on it.

I loved those Yankees shirts. They were by Majestic. They were a perfect weight, always cool enough or warm enough.

The cotton slid right over my head and shoulders and was perfectly soft from the first day out of the shopping bag.

Whenever I wore them, I had a brief flash of sitting by the pool with the sun on my legs, my cap pulled low, and the Yankees radio broadcast in my years.

It’s hard to find sports fan clothes for a man of my girth, especially for the Yankees.

New Yorkers are snobs for skinny people.

Anyway, those are gone now.

That brings me to my second frustration.

This routine of leaving the laundry outside went on for years without a problem.

Some people chided me about living in the Drake University neighborhood. They tell me how dangerous it is.

Those closer to my age remember the terrible murders at the Drake Diner some 30 years ago.

Others note crimes just blocks away from my apartment.

But I’ve lived here almost 25 of my 47 years and, until this incident, never had a problem.

This is my home.

I love my alma mater.

I love the students.

I love the vitality of this neighborhood, from the reopened Varsity theater to Habanero’s at 32nd Street and Forest Avenue.

People will tell me it was a foolish thing to leave my property outside, unguarded.

I will them that which I have told them for all the years I’ve lived here: Bad things happen everywhere. You can’t judge a place by one thing.

I trust my neighbors and my neighborhood.

My laundry may be gone, but I’m not going anywhere.

Besides, what would I wear?

Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.


  1. Jackie+Jillson says:

    Any cameras in the area?
    Hopefully the laundry bag and your clothes will be returned … it could happen!


  2. Allison says:

    I’m sorry. That’s a real bummer.


  3. That sucks. I put a short notice on a local Reddit sub.


  4. Judy Corcoran says:

    I miss your writing. Just stumbled on this. Is there a regular source? Former reporter myself From years ago. Not in DSM. Late husband was cop reporter for the Tribune until it closed. Probably before your time.


    1. Yes. I write here at least once a week and publish my podcast here.


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