Friday, May 15, 2009

A Tale of Laundry and Buttons

I had been saving up a bunch of dry cleaning because I'd received a letter from the local dry cleaners thanking me for my business, along with a 30% off coupon. I wanted to maximize that 30% with as huge an order as possible.

Winter is over (trust me, it's going to be 105 here this weekend) and when I changed my sheets I thought, Hmm, this would be a good time to get the mattress pad cleaned too (it's wool). I checked the hall closet and also grabbed a couple of wool coats. The camel coat had one button hanging barely by a thread, and another loose button in the pocket. I thought, OK I'll get these all cleaned now, they can sew on those buttons, and then I'll put everything away for next winter. Thus, with the entire back seat of my car filled with a huge bag of my coats, blouses, pants, silk salwar kameez suit, and my husband's vests, plus the California King wool mattress pad, I headed out to Today Cleaners on my way to the farmer's market.

I don't know if Today Cleaners is anywhere other than Bakersfield. They have a near monopoly here. In by 11, out by 4, same day, everyday, even Sundays. The two locations I've been to are clean, in nice buildings, and there's always plenty of parking. Their store by my office has drive up service, too. They provide free laundry bags that are actually quite sharp looking, with your own ID tag. So, when you're in a rush you can simply drop off the bag and run. I like that they have 25% off coupons on the internet and all you have to do is print them out.

However, this day I had a special 30% off coupon.

So I got all my laundry out of the car and with my arms so laundry laden I could barely see in front of me, I made my way through the door. Then, I couldn't understand why there were people all standing in a row behind a glass counter that wasn't there before, and why were there little tables and chairs in there? Then I looked up and saw the sign listing all the Subways. Not quite in the mood for a Veggie Delight, my laundry and I turn around, located the door, and went outside, one door down, to the cleaners.

Being in a bit of a hurry as I already would be barely making it to the farmers market before they closed at noon, I dumped everything on the counter. A slightly round young woman looked at everything and pointed to my mattress pad and said, "What is that?" I replied, "That is a wool mattress pad." She then proceeded to explain to me why they would not clean it... "It's just our policy, I'm sorry."

"What do you mean?" I asked incredulously. "Of course you can clean this. Here, look at this tag, right here, it says, 'Dry Clean Only.'" I felt I had certainly proven my point; after all it was written in plain English on the tag.

"I'm sorry Mrs. Khalsa, but we don't accept these. We've had some of them fall apart." It was clear this woman was not going to budge, and I was in a hurry.

"Well, I've had it cleaned before with no problem, I would be happy to have you clean it and sign a waiver or something so you aren't responsible if it gets damaged," I said, trying to employ the best rhetoric I could muster up.

"I'm so sorry, M'am," she said one more time. "These other things will be ready for you this afternoon at 4:00."

I said, "Fine, then," picked up the mattress pad and bolted out the door. I hadn't raised my voice, but I was a little annoyed and started having thoughts about never ever going there again.

I realized a few nights later that I had left the slightly round assertive young woman at Today Cleaners without getting a receipt or telling her about my camel coat and its buttons that were falling off. I thought about calling and telling her, "Remember me? The impatient woman with the turban who walked out when you refused to take my mattress pad? Could you please sew on my buttons?" but just didn't even want to deal with it. Besides, I'm never ever going there ever again. Ever. How could they refuse to clean my mattress pad?

However, I did worry about the buttons on my coat. The one could just fall right out of the pocket and be lost forever, and the other was literally hanging on 2 inches of thread. And damn, this was probably the first time I had ever thrown out the packet of spare buttons that is pinned inside so many garments.

I ended up bringing the mattress pad to another dry cleaner closer to our home. They took it without hesitation, asked for $24 payment in advance (just my luck, no coupon), and when I picked it up a week later it was perfectly fine.

My husband must have picked up the drycleaning from Today Cleaners, because a few days later I noticed it all hanging in the hall closet. My mind was still stressing about the buttons. Finding the camel coat, I reached up under the plastic and felt inside the pockets. Gone. But, examining the coat I saw that not only were both buttons securely fastened, but someone had taken the time to reinforce the stitching on all of the buttons. The coat looked as new and fabulous as when I bought it on sale at Macy's last year.

I guess I'll be going back to Today's after all.


  1. Read this while waiting for a car at Enterprise in Portland. Such a kick. What we presume, assume and expect and what the Universe delivers--always an interesting juxtaposition. HBK

  2. you are so funny.
    i love especially when you show the woman the tag that says "dry clean only"
    you crack me up.

  3. Don't you love it when people surprise you with their goodness?
    I do.
    So much.