The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life
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Monday, February 8, 2016
Personal Reflections ...

I’m (hopefully) in the last few years of my full-time “professional” career, and at this point, I’m not putting as much effort into maintaining a “power wardrobe” as I used to. Oh, I still like nice suits and sports jackets and dress slacks, and I appreciate a good mix of plain and patterned shirts of different colors, and an assortment of interesting but tasteful ties. But in my heyday, I strove mightily to keep all of that battle armor in top condition. That meant regular visits to the local cleaners. But in recent years, those visits have become fewer and farther apart; unless a garment has an obvious stain or really starts smelling unpleasant, I’ve learned to tolerate a more rumpled and dusty look. To put my whole working wardrobe thru the cleaners now costs close to $200, and I can think of lots of other good things to do with that money.

Nonetheless, I recently pulled out a jacket that really was looking rather sad. So I gathered a few other of my workhorse jackets and two pairs of slacks, and headed over to the local cleaners (I’m lucky enough to have a decent one just up the street from me in easy walking distance). This past Saturday, I went back to pick up my newly dry-cleaned duds. It was mid-afternoon, and one or two other customers were in the shop, likewise dropping off or picking up something. The overall atmosphere was calm and relatively pleasant. The young woman at the register gave me a nice hello, took my ticket and went to the moving rack to dredge my stuff up from the basement. (As a kid, I was always fascinated by those moving clothes racks in cleaners).

While waiting for this, I did some people watching. This cleaners shop was a rather busy place behind the counter. Obviously it was doing a bit more than simple cleaning; a woman was busy at a sewing machine, and at an adjacent table, a gentleman wearing a sports coat and a tie was busy with a needle and thread, making some sort of repairs or alternations to a jacket something like the one he was wearing. Further in the back, a man was carefully carrying a wedding dress somewhere. The woman who seems to be the manager or owner of the place stepped out from behind the racks of clothing, looking for something at the front counter. She gave me a quick look and a kind smile. She must be a good small-business person, but I definitely appreciated it.

In another few seconds, my clothes were found and I was paying my $52. The transaction was brisk and efficient, and in another few seconds it was time for exchanging “thank you, have a nice weekend” pleasantries. I was soon out the door, but aside from having my newly-cleaned slacks and jackets with me, I also walked away with an interesting memory, a sample of a few typical moments in the life of a busy little community enterprise. There was something rather unique about this cleaners shop, it wasn’t just another local small business like the sandwich shop around the corner. The people there had a certain “old-Europe” look and sense to them (and in a good way, almost charming). They weren’t just dipping shirts and jackets into a chemical vat; they were also craftspeople getting special garments ready for someone. Their work was going to become part no doubt of someone’s special days in life, in addition to all the mundane work-days like my own that they help keep a little cleaner and tidier.

Hmmm. Dry cleaning is a bit expensive, so I don’t think I’ll be going back every 2 weeks, maybe not even every 2 months. But still, a nice little experience like that will probably get me back there once the leaves turn green, the days become long and the air becomes warm and muggy once again. Hey, gotta have some clean duds for summer! And hopefully a few more nice smiles and interesting doings from behind the counter.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 6:19 pm      

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