Why Dry Cleaners Give Me A Funny Feeling (In a Bad Way)
February 9, 2014 § 1 Comment
I don’t like dry cleaners. You may be asking yourself: how is it possible for someone not to like a place where other people clean your dirty clothes for you? Because I do like it when someone else cleans my home from top to bottom or does my piles of laundry without question. I fact I love it. I love it when someone else cooks for me (and does the dishes), or drives me to where I want to go or fixes things that are broken in my home. So why the grudge against dry cleaners?
It’s not because of the fumes that hit you when you enter, even though they are varied and headache inducing. It’s not because of the sweltering tropical heat and humidity inside, even though it might be snowing outside. It’s not because of the sense of loss of control that you get from revealing your dirty secrets to complete strangers (what really caused those dark stains on your pants?). It’s not because of the exorbitant prices, even though $40 seems excessive for cleaning a couple of sweaters and jackets. And it’s not because they say they can get the job done in a hour (they can’t) but always try to get you to agree to a week instead (do you really need that for your big meeting?).
It’s because not once but twice – as in TWO! – they lost my clothes. Gone. Never got them back. Just like that. Whoosh! The first time was many years ago at a time when I was young, vulnerable and poor. The local dry cleaner lost my all time favourite pair of pants and I didn’t have a lot of pants back then. A perfect pair, that fit me to a tee, and made me look taller and more chic than I had any right to look. I admit I lost control and told the owner – I somehow found myself in the store “office” – what’s what. The man’s face did not flinch as he described the law, the law people! He had no legal obligation to refund me the value of the pants (I had paid only $25 for them, which only added to their awesomeness, but he didn’t know that). What about good customer service? What about his moral obligation? The bastard refused to budge an inch, not even offering a few coupons for free dry cleaning. It got ugly. There were personal attacks. I let him know he was ugly and stupid and I hated him.
For months after I thought of elaborate plans of sabotage. Through lack of creativity or ambition or both, a perfect plan never really crystallized and was certainly never implemented (I also moved), but I do remember thinking along the lines of a devastating fire or bomb or some sort of neighbourhood rally that would ruin him financially. He would eventually have to file for bankruptcy, his head bowed as he left the neighbourhood in dishonour, people shouting Shame on you! and throwing tomatoes at him. (A girl can dream.)
The second time was more recent. The gist of the story is that my dry cleaner was so behind in paying rent, that the landlord locked him out, shut down the store, took the clothing still in it and sold them, including some of my clothes. I described the events in a previous equally lengthy post.
And damn it! if I don’t have a fancy car or really any kind of mode of transportation whatsoever other than the public kind because I am reducing my footprint (I am told it is as big as several football fields) or a house with a husband and children because that just seems like a bad idea all around (with all the noise and demands and expectations) or all the latest in gadgets and technology and whatnot (my iPhone and mac laptop do not count because I need them) or an oh-so-fuckin’-cute dog that adorably eats anything it can get a hold of and adorably chases its tail and birds and other dogs, but what I do have – and it’s a beauty – is a god damn wardrobe of epic proportions. Epic. I do not use the word lightly, people.
It’s bewildering and so big that no closet can contain it. Even if I were to build an extension to my condo by knocking out my neighbour’s kitchen, it might not be enough. Things are piled high and deep, spilling over onto chairs and desks and even the floor or tucked away wherever there’s a bit of space. It’s so big I often forget what I own, and sometimes buy something new only to find that I already have something almost identical. Despite this excessive abundance, I am truly saddened by the loss of even one item of MY stuff that I love and love, even if it’s just one tiny t-shirt or pair of socks. I admit part of this is an insatiable and slightly unhealthy need for control over my essentially uncontrollable life and also a sense of violation that my stuff – that I house like so many religious icons – has been taken, nay stolen, from me, ripped away from me, from the safety of my sanctuary. Yes, I am a bit obsessive, a bit OCD! And quite a bit shallow and vain, but what a collection of clothes, such beautiful things! Full of colours and patterns that brighten my day, textures from silky to rough, from soft to woven, and so many different styles. Gorgtastic! All in the name of gratuitous pleasure, I’ll admit it. I go about my business, I work, earn a paycheque and spend a good part of it of this – my guilty indulgence.
This wardrobe of mine, it is a thing of beauty not only in the varied textures, colours and styles, but in its utter completeness. It’s got everything. It’s got coats for when it’s just a bit cold or medium cold or bone crushing cold, jackets cute or serious tight or lose simple or complicated, raincoats some trendy some classic cut, scarves (heavy winter ones and light ones for warmer seasons), gloves long and short warm and light, both summer and winter hats, boots with heals and flats, lined and not lined, and just a shit load of shoes (wedges, heals, flats, sandals, open toes, close toes, in every possible colour in the spectrum), pants and jeans low cut high cut dark light wide narrow skinny, A-line and pencil skirts, long skirts flowered patterns or in serious grey for work, dresses so many dresses, some frilly some plain some silky, tons of tops and tees for layering and otherwise, blouses, long and short, sweaters (oh my gods do I have sweaters climbing all the way to the ceiling in my closet!), casual and sexy undies and bras, drawers full of leggings and tights and hoses in a bewildering range of colours.
So I will never give any of MY beautiful clothes to a dry cleaner again because once you surrender even one tiny piece to those sneaky devils anything can happen. Anything people! It is essentially their property until they decide to return it to you. Let that be a lesson to all of you out there.