tales of a girl in the city

août 11, 2005

To The Cleaners

She's wearing a t-shirt with a tiny purple duck on it that looks out from behind a large daisy. "Peeking Duck," it says across the top. A grown woman with a purple cartoon duck on her chest. I'm finding it hard to be mad.

But, still.

She's handing me back my white suit, wrapped up in plastic. Even through the covering, however, I can see the coffee drops still on the lapel.

The coffee drops that were there when I brought the suit in to the drycleaner.

To have it cleaned.

The idea being that the coffee drops would NOT be there when I picked it up.

Or, at least, that's what I was thinking. Maybe she just thought I was paying her to keep the thing for a couple of days. You know. Let it hang out with some other suits over the weekend. Mingle. Maybe find a boy suit to love. Kind of a suit social outing, with Peeking Duck lady as the events coordinator.

I should really say something, I think.

Times like this, I find it is best to rely on communication. I mean, no sense in me getting mad if she really was under the impression that I was dropping my suit off for a weekend-long suit-getaway. Because, in that case, judging from all the other suits in plastic hanging up behind her, my suit had probably gotten it's twelve dollars worth of fun, and I really couldn't be angry about the coffee stains. I mean. I like my suit. I want it to be happy.

Or, what if this was, in fact, my fault. What if I'd misunderstood the sign outside her shop: "Dry-Clean." Maybe that sign was implying that the customers had to make a choice--did you want whatever items you dropped off with this woman to be returned to you dry? Or clean? One or the other. That would be an easy mistake to make, considering that most dry-cleaners actually automatically aim for both. Perhaps the real problem here was that I had not been specific? Or, even worse, had unknowingly chosen "dry" when, in fact, what I wanted was "clean." In which case, my suit is indeed dry. I can hardly, then, blame her for giving me what she thought I had asked for.

We need to get to the bottom of this.

"Um. You know, I'd actually been hoping you'd get the coffee stain off of the front of this suit. I wanted it clean," I say.

I always like to be clear.

"Oooooooooh," she says, as though this concept is new to her. Then she looks closer at the suit through the plastic. She fingers the stained spots.

Wow. She seems so taken by this idea. Maybe she did think I just wanted it returned to me dry. Huh. Is that really a service that people value and pay for? Is there some sort of flooding epidemic in our neighborhood? Pipes bursting in all the homes around me? Spontaneous rain clouds--like the ones in cartoons--forming over the closets in my area? People running into her shop, "Please. Keep this dry. Just for a couple of days. I'll pay you."


"Oh-kay," she says. "We work on it next time."

Oh good, I think. So the stain can be removed. She just was busy keeping the suit dry this time around. Introducing it around to the other suits probably too. You know. Socially. Hence the twelve-dollar charge. Next time I pay her twelve dollars she'll focus on the cleaning part. Excellent.

For a moment, as I hand her the money, I feel like a total fucking sucker.

But then I notice the cute little cartoon duck again. And the beanie-baby frog on her cash-register. The picture of a chubby little baby being licked by a fluffy white puppy that is in direct eye-line view of every customer who walks in the door. And I feel ashamed to have even thought about being mad at someone who is obviously cheerful and sweet.

Though as I leave, I swear I hear her say, "Hey, Eddie. Stupid "Peeking Duck" t-shirt work again!"