Janine heaved a sigh as she tried to open the door to the laundromat with one hand while balancing the basket of dirty clothes on her leg. She never could understand why the building managers didn't bother to put in automatic doors, or at least ones that could be pushed in either direction. Trying to maneuver a laundry basket with a door that pulled open was ridiculous.
It was Saturday afternoon so the laundromat was hopping, but Janine spotted two open machines in the far aisle. She quickly claimed them, setting her basket on top of the left one. As she opened the lid of the other, she glanced up and noticed a rather attractive jeans-clad rear end. The front half of the man had been swallowed up by a front load dryer on the bottom row. He was clearly having trouble claiming his clothes from the back of it, and Janine ogled his ass appreciatively while she tossed her whites into the washer in front of her.
Suddenly, she heard a dull, metallic thud followed by a string of expletives. Janine assumed the owner of the tight jeans had banged his head on the inside of the dryer, so she rushed over to help. "Are you all right?" she asked.
"I'm fine," he said, pulling his head out of the dryer and rubbing it with his hand. "Those bottom dryers are killer for tall people."
Janine laughed. "I suppose that is one thing I don't have to worry about." She tilted her head to one side and looked at the man intently. "Charlie Thomas, is that you?" she asked.
"It's Brewer now," he answered automatically, as if it were old habit. "Janine?"
"What are you doing here?" they asked at the same time.
"I just moved -"
"I'm teaching at- Sorry."
"No, you go first," Charlie said.
"I work in the cognitive science department at UC San Diego," Janine told him. "I didn't know you also lived here."
"I just moved a few weeks ago," Charlie replied. "I got a job working in the Padres' offices."
"That's... baseball, right?" Janine asked, silently kicking herself even as she was finishing her sentence. The first time she'd seen Charlie Thomas in years, and all she could muster was That's baseball, right? She wanted to melt into the floor.
Charlie smiled even more brightly. "Yes, that's the one. One of my professors at Endicott hooked me up with an old student of his, and that's how I ended up out here. Kristy mentioned you'd moved to 'somewhere in California,' but I had no idea you were in San Diego."
"I have only been here about six months myself. How strange that we happen to live in the same neighborhood more than 2400 miles away from home!"
"In a good way, I hope?"
"Oh!" Janine felt her face flush. "Yes, of course." She looked at the dryer next to them nervously. "Do you need some help getting the rest of your things from..." she trailed off.
"I think I managed to grab the last of those pesky socks before the dryer tried to kill me," he replied with a laugh, rubbing the bump on his head. "But I'll take a rain check on that offer."
"Well, I guess I should get back to my other washer before someone steals it. It was nice running into you."
"It was really good to see you, Janine," Charlie said. "Hey, wait!" Janine stopped in her tracks. "Did you maybe want to get a cup of coffee some time? I don't really know many people here yet. And it would be nice to catch up."
It was Janine's turn to smile. "Yes, I would like that."