By: RJ Kaminski
During the Boston Shootout for Soldiers event, my friend and fellow volunteer, Jimmy Peacock, and I went on a run to find a local Laundromat where we could wash two large bags of men’s and women’s jerseys. We found a place called “The Laundry Room ETC,” so I hopped out of the car and walked inside while Jimmy tried to find a parking spot.
The Laundromat was old fashioned, and only a few older machines lined the walls. A large Italian man behind the counter asked in a pleasant, yet commanding, tone what I needed.
“We have a charity event going on right now at Harvard University called the Shootout for Soldiers,” I said. “I need to have these jerseys washed and back there as soon as I can.”
“Jerseys, huh?” he asked. “And it’s for charity?”
“Yes sir,” I replied, not knowing if he would want to hear all about a 24-hour lacrosse game during a busy, hot business day in downtown Boston.
Before he said anything else, he walked down past me, sticking his key in three different machines apparently for my use.
“Go relax and have a cup of coffee,” he said. “Come back in an hour and I’ll have everything done for you.”
“Thank you, sir,” I said as I walked out, feeling like I was exiting the scene of one of those classic Italian mob movies where you just listen to whatever the boss tells you.
When I returned 40 minutes later, the jerseys were still drying. I took this time to discuss what I owed him. As I pulled out some cash, he said, “No, no. It’s on me. But tell me about this ‘Shootout for Soldiers’.”
It is wonderful explaining the Shootout for Soldiers to someone who you know has a genuine interest in the whole story and the cause. The Laundry Room owner visibly paid attention to every detail, especially when I said I plan to travel to California with four of my best friends.
Out of all the questions people have regarding our event, he may have asked the most difficult one. He asked, “How do you kids do this without getting paid? How are you going to eat going across the country?”
We typically just pay for our own meals, which never seemed foreign to me. But I told him I honestly did not know and that I guess we would deal with that when the time came.
That was the one answer I gave him that I could tell did not sit well with him. He pointed to an employee to help me bag up my 100+ jerseys and I was ready to be on my way.
“Come here, brother,” he said. “Take this and have a meal on me while you’re on the road to California.”
He handed me a wad of twenty-dollar bills that totaled $200.
I am rarely at a loss for words, so I had no idea what to do after experiencing this act of kindness. I went around the counter and gave the man a hug and told him I would repay him someway, somehow.
His name is Don Zar. He owns The Laundry Room on 1761 Mass Avenue in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I encourage everyone in the Boston area to bring your business his way.
The reason I am writing this is because I want to thank someone who helped restore my faith in human kindness and generosity. I was a 20-year-old kid walking into that shop with a bag of jerseys and a story about an event my friends and I started back in high school. He not only believed me and was intrigued by our entire story, but he did something that is quite rare in the world today.
Only about a handful of people know about his generous act last week. But now it is my pleasure to tell you this story and recognize him publicly.
Thank you very much, Don, on behalf of the entire Shootout for Soldiers team.
Like I told him on my way out, “The world needs more people like you, my friend!”