Norma has told me she prefers I stay away from the laundry, since I have a habit of messing up things. But if I "must" help, she's instructed me to put her clothes in the dryer for no more than five minutes, then hang them up.
One day I noticed that Norma was washing a load of her clothes. Since she was busy on the phone, I thought I'd do something nice for her: I'd surprise her and help do her laundry.
When the washing cycle finished, I removed the load from the washer and put it in the dryer.
I really did intend to take them out and hang them to finish drying. But something distracted me, and two hours later, I remembered, "Oh no, Norma's clothes!" I rushed to the dryer, but it was too late. For a moment, I was tempted to put them back in the washer, thinking she'd never know. I guess I wanted to believe I could rehydrate them.
With fear and trepidation, I told my wife, "I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that I dried your clothes that were in the washer."
"What!" she said, and I sensed the tension rising.
"But the good news is," I quickly interjected, "Taylor [our five-year-old granddaughter] has a whole new wardrobe!"
My attempt at humor didn't defuse the problem as much as I'd hoped.
"It takes me a long time to find nice clothes that will fit me properly," she said, frustrated.
I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I had never realized that it takes her extra time to find clothes that will work. I'd been thinking it wasn't a big deal—mostly because it takes me about 30 seconds to buy clothes.1