Our Dry-Cleaning Lady

Posted on November 9, 2014

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When you move to a new place, and some of the service providers start recognizing you, you begin to feel more at home. This epiphany came to me when I went to drop off our dry-cleaning a few weeks after we moved to Toronto. The owner of this store is a pleasant South-East Asian* woman, always smiling, never complaining. What does a dry-cleaner complain about? Well, our dragon dry-cleaner lady in Chicago, also South-East Asian, used to yell at me because Sid wouldn’t undo the buttons on his shirt. It used to really piss me off. When you’re paying $2.50 per shirt, you’d think they’d welcome you with open arms! Not her, the dry-cleaner lady on South Michigan Avenue in Chicago! But this dry-cleaner lady in Toronto, she won’t complain. When she didn’t complain the first time she saw Sid’s not undone buttons, she had already won my heart!

It was a fine fall morning last year, we’d been in Toronto just over two months, when I plonked a whole lotta men’s clothing in front of our dry-cleaner lady. She took out her notepad and to my pleasant surprise wrote “Sid” without me telling her. “How did you know,” I exclaimed! She said, “I know you. You ‘Shit’s’ wife.” I was laughing so hard that no sound was coming out of me. Unfortunately, she didn’t continue to say “Shit” for long. She has now progressed to “Shid”.

She was the first person outside the people we know to “know” us. This made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, the familiarity did. Whenever I go to pick up or drop off the dry-cleaning, she always inquires about “Shid” or tells me, “Your haasband, Shid, is a very nice man”. This has happened at least three to four times. When I tell Sid what she said each time, he good-naturedly says, “Rascal she is!” Why? A few months ago, Sid went to drop off the clothes and she said, “You, very nice man. All Indians usually ask for discount.” Sid was prompt to respond, “No, no, I want discount!” She just laughed, took the clothes and sent him packing.

Today, when Sid went to pick up the clothes, she said to him, “Your wife is bright and beautiful!” Sid came out and told me, “That rascal!” Our dry-cleaning lady must be over sixty, but her marketing skills are exemplary. It is her small talk and great service that make us keep going back though she is almost 7 kms from our house. That, and the fact that she was one the first reasons I began to feel at home in Toronto.

P.S. Sid thinks I am writing this post only because she called me ‘bright and beautiful’. You be the judge.

For our dry-cleaning lady, you shatter the stereotypes about the entire community. You are awesome and I love you.

*South-East Asian: I used this term as I am not sure if she is Korean, Chinese or Japanese. I think she is Chinese, but don’t want to assume. And I also want to admit openly that I cannot differentiate between people of these nationalities, just as I can’t differentiate between Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans. And of course, to educate the West, that the term “Asian” includes people from Russia to Israel! 

 

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Posted in: life