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The Most Important Job
A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts

In the days before home washing machines, people brought their clothes to the local laundromat to be cleaned. My parents had inherited Federico’s Family Laundromat from my grandfather, and it was a true family operation. My father worked the washing machines while my mother sat at the sewing machine, fixing rips and tears. My Aunt Gloria tended the cash register. Even granddad was pulled out of his happy retirement now and then to lend a hand.

My father used to say that the most important machine in the laundromat wasn’t the washing machine, the cash register, or the sewing machine. It was the coffee pot that sat by the entrance. The coffee was free, and almost every customer would stop and have a cup while they chatted with my parents or my aunt. In the hours after school or on the weekends, it was my job to keep the coffee pot filled. At least ten times per day, I would dump out the wet coffee grounds, carefully measure the seven scoops of freshly ground beans, fill the pot with water, and flick the switch. It was such a mindless and repetitive task that I could have done it in my sleep.

I remember complaining to my father one busy day. “Why do we have to give away coffee? We’re a laundromat, not a coffee shop!” I whined. My father stopped what he was doing, walked around the counter, and motioned for me to sit down. He took a seat across from me, and with a patient but serious look on his face, he spoke:

“Son, people can wash their clothes at any laundromat in town. They come to ours because we treat them like family. What do you do when family comes to visit the house? You offer them a cup of coffee. You chat with them, laugh with them, bond with them. People don’t just need a place to clean their clothes. They need a familiar face and a smile. They need friendship. That is why your job is the most important job in the laundromat.”

My father’s words had the desired effect. From then on, I didn’t complain about my job. I even measured the scoops a little more carefully, ensuring that the coffee would turn out just right. After all, I had the most important job in the laundromat, and that was worth taking seriously.

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