I went to the cleaners the other day and as I pulled out my last item of clothing I saw a crumpled claim ticket in the bottom of the tote bag. I used to put my cleaners tickets on the refrigerator so I’d remember them, so of course I didn’t. My refrigerator is a jumbled graveyard of baby pictures of grown people, save the date wedding invitations for divorced couples, calendars from the turn of the century, and business cards for defunct companies. I know. My refrigerator really needs to get its shit together. So I decided to put my cleaners ticket in the bottom of the bag of clothes to be taken out. Makes sense right? A good plan predicated on going to the cleaners on a fairly regular basis.
Fairly regular became not at all when I started buying fewer dry clean only clothes. (A lady has to cut corners somewhere, yes?) And for the few pieces I had that were dry-clean only I managed to stretch out their wear-ability with Febreeze and denial.
And so, the other day when I finally went to the cleaners it had indeed been a while; as evidenced by my failed plan to remember the forgotten claim ticket in the bottom of the bag. I fished it out and the date read 2014. I’d done without an outfit I thought worth dry cleaning for two years? Two years? I thought my To Do List was better than this. I thought I was better than this.
As I handed the Cleaner Lady my artifact ticket she looked at the date, looked at me, looked back at the ticket and said, “Wow. I don’t know.” There was no judgment on her face or in her tone. Just amazement. I think she’s way more accustomed to people not having their cleaning ticket at all, not someone producing one from the way back.
She seemed as curious as I was to see if my clothes were still there. Embarking on an impromptu fashion scavenger hunt, she disappeared into the back of the shop and came back in less than a minute with a look of surprised triumph. Wrapped in planet-killing plastic was a tan dress and complimenting jacket; perfect for late spring or early autumn. And like running into an acquaintance you recall by face but not by name I thought, “Oh, hey! I remember you!” Remembered, but not missed.
The Lady and I were both happy but slightly confused that she’d found my clothes so quickly. I was prepared to hear the, “I’m sorry, we don’t have it” speech. And I would have been okay with that. I deserved it. Two years is a long time to leave something by the wayside. It’s more than reasonable to expect customers to pick up their clothes while they’re still in-style. In fact it’s the policy at most cleaning establishments to sell abandoned property after six months. Which made me wonder, most ungratefully, why was my dress still there? What’s wrong with it? It’s not cute enough to sell? Whatever.
But it occurs, maybe the cleaners’ sell-by plan is like my To Do List: An ideal of what you’d like to do versus of the reality of what can be done. The upshot? The dress still fits, my body and my style. I wasn’t charged for storage and, thankfully, I have a cute outfit back in the rotation because my cleaners is further behind on its to do list than I am.