I thought I was being helpful as I commiserated with my usual "yeah" and "hm!" - because what do you say? "Wow, sounds like a lot of laundry!" "You can do it, you're the laundry queen!" I thought she was just venting her frustrations, so I showed whatever support I felt at the time by grumbling in assent.
A bit later I went up to take a shower, and thought I'd pitch in with our little problem by folding a load of clothes. I was surprised to find that there wasn't a load in the dryer. There wasn't a load in the washer. There were no loads. It was like a good mutual fund up in here.
Oh good, a finance joke. Those always go over well.
She didn't want my sympathy. She wanted my HELP. Now what she could have said was "hey, can you get a load in the laundry real quick? It's kinda piling up." But instead she chose the pre-passive aggressive route of saying how frustrated she was with her workload(like it's solely hers, which of course it isn't, another story there) - in an attempt to get me to volunteer for service.
So as usual, my response in these moments isn't what she was looking for, and in retrospect I have one of these moments: "oooooh, THAT's what she meant."
"Pre-passive-aggressive", that should immediately be in the urban dictionary, don't you think?