In preparation for one of the 40 weddings I am invited to this year (always the bridesmaid never the bride…er…right?) I entered a dry-cleaner with some garments I hoped still fit. They’ve been shrinking a lot of things, lately, even stuff I never brought in. I realized, as I handed over two shirts that apparently take five days to clean, that this place hasn’t changed in thirty years. Dry-cleaners evolve like granite. I have more computing power in my pocket than they have in their whole store and yet we still pay them $4 a shirt? For what?
Anytime you ask somebody for a good dry-cleaner recommendation they always have to tell you where not to go. “Avoid Smith’s on 4th Street, they ruined 3 of my shirts.” It’s always three shirts. That’s the threshold. We give our dry-cleaners more chances than we give our children. There’s some kid in juvie right now saying, “if only I was a dry-cleaner.”
The next time you’re in one of these places, take a look around. I guarantee the carpet will be 25 years old and dirty. It’s always dirty in a dry-cleaner’s. I guess they are too busy with the shirts to pick up a vacuum. The ones with linoleum floors aren’t any better. There’s always a black spot that looks like someone was murdered and no one cleaned up the blood. These are the people we trust with our finest clothes. Start with a mop and then you can work your way up to my shirts. That’s my policy.
I looked into the world of dry-cleaners for about five minutes and what I found was astonishing. Their last major conference in the Southeast was scheduled five years ago. I guess because they got together, said are you still cleaning shirts like you did five years ago, some guy said yes and they all left.
I also stumbled across on Google something called the “Dry-cleaning and Laundry Institute.” At first, I thought it was a place dry-cleaners went after they had had it. But no, this is the dry-cleaning governing body for the world. It’s not just for the US. If there’s a shirt that needs cleaning in Fiji, these schmucks oversee it. My favorite part of this organization is that once you become a member for $45 dollars a month, you get access to something they call “garment analysis” (for $36/garment). This service is basically so, when they ruin your favorite dress, they send it to this “place” and I imagine something happens like this:
Basically, the DLI is a membership organization to help dry-cleaners cover their ass when they screw up. Brilliant! Instead of inventing ways to not screw up, they invented a phony Org, made it look official and charged a fee. Honestly, I would have been less shocked if you could have a dry-cleaner whacked for a fee.
Maybe it’s time we looked at the necessity of dry-cleaners as a whole. I mean, they helped George Jefferson, and that’s about it. Except for stains, what do they really do except fill your house with suffocating plastic bags and useless wire hangers. I’m pretty sure the stuff I dropped off last Tuesday was clean. In five days they are going to hand it back to me “clean.” They did nothing. The follow up to this uselessness will be ready next Wednesday sometime after 5. But we close at 6, so you better hurry.