September 24, 2010

New Dry Cleaner/Tailor – A Study in Contrasts.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:28 pm

We decided that we needed the services of a dry cleaner/tailor in the neighborhood of the House by the Parkway (South).

At the House by the Parkway (North), we have used the same dry cleaner/tailor for decades. The shop was located in a rather unattractive corner store and was presided over by a great guy (We’ll call him “Tom”), who wore T shirts and jeans (shorts in the summer). The store itself was pretty well always cluttered with piles of dry cleaning waiting to be tossed into the machine, and the “guts” of the operation was open for all to see. Tom was an engaging, boisterous guy in a Jersey way. Definitely a beer guy.

Several times in the past, I had brought in new shorts in order to have them shortened. This is necessary, because in terms of body/leg length ratio, I am more akin to an ape.

Anyway, I would bring in a pair that Tom had previously altered, and he would measure the inseams (He had to measure both inseams, as one of my legs is slightly shorter than the other – an off-kilter ape, I suppose – so you’re farookin’ perfect now?), and scratch down the measurements by hand on a cleaning ticket. I would get the original (usually, but if not, no big deal) and, other than some jovial back and forth Jersey ball bustin’, that was it.


Yesterday I went to a dry cleaner/tailor in the neighborhood of the House by the Parkway (South). The proprietor was a well dressed (business casual), young (twenty-something?) Asian fellow, and gave us a big smile and welcoming bow. The store was spotless and completely free of clutter. In fact, the only sign that it was a dry cleaner/tailor was a sewing machine and lots of spools of thread tucked away in the corner of the store. The “guts” of the place was behind a wall, and there was a closed, windowed door behind the counter, behind which was obviously the conveyer that holds the finished work. I presume the guy opens the door and rotates the conveyer until the customer’s clothes makes it to the door to the front of the store. Verrrrrrrr tidy, but I never minded looking at other peeps’ clothes on the conveyer at Tom’s place.

Anyway, I put two new pairs of shorts on his counter along with the pair that had been previously altered by Tom up North. I explained what I wanted, and he got it, except that he wanted to hold on to the “sample” or “samper,” as he pronounced it. I presume that someone other than he operated the sewing machine, which is why.I had to leave me well worn shorts with him.

Then the real craziness ensued.

Remember, Tom up North handled everything with a pen and little pad of cleaning tickets. Here, the very nice fellow required name, address, phone number and how we heard of his store. All of this information was being entered, real time, in what must be a fancy schmancy database/dry cleaning/tailoring program.

He would do about a hundred keystrokes, then a dozen taps on the touch-sensitive screen. Stroke, stroke, stroke ….. Tap, tap, tap, tap…..Stroke, stroke, stroke. He must have spent two minutes key stroking and screen tapping.

All this for two pairs of shorts?

After all that, he asked, “When would you like to pick up?”

I replied, “No rush. I have other shorts.” I didn’t want to trigger another blaze of key stroking and screen tapping.

He said, with command authority,“One week.”

“OK,” I said, wondering what would have happened if I had told him I needed the shorts the next day.

Back to key stroking and screen tapping. Stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke…..tap, tap, tap, tap…….stroke, stroke, stroke…….tap, tap, tap.

At the end of it all, his printer spit out a bar coded ticket that looked more like a lottery ticket than the anything else. It contained all my information, with possible exception of my blood type.

He then gave us another bow and told us how grateful he was that we came to his establishment.

I am not a Luddite, but I could not help but wonder whether I would be able to get my altered shorts if the guy’s computers crashed. Up North, a computer crash would not be a problem, although a pen and paper crash could be trouble.

Yeah, I’m an old fartster, and I don’t mean to imply that one way of doing business is better than the next. They’re just different is all. Either way, I figure I’ll get my altered shorts some time before next summer, and that’s really all I care about.


  1. The little guy is an OK Joe.
    His promised dates hold true, and the next time you go in, all you’ll need is a phone number or little key card to recall all that tapped info.
    On your way in no time!

    Comment by Dave_in_NJ — September 25, 2010 @ 8:53 am

  2. We’ve gotten to the point, at the TV station I ply my engineering trade, that if the “rundown” computer crashes during the newscast, everyone freaks out demanding the director go “back to network”, even though the computer would take around 90 seconds to completely reboot. No one even CONSIDERS reading from the script or going to a break during the time the play-out computer reboots. How the hell did we ever survive in the past. As Jeff Goldblum’s character remarks in Jurassic Park, “just because it CAN be done, doesn’t mean it SHOULD be done”. Sometimes, pencil and paper is just fine. Our total reliance on the unstable world of computers is somewhat amusing, but, at the same time, somewhat disconcerting. And THIS coming from a techie who’s been “playing” and repairing “technology” for nearly 50 years. When a system crashes, the whole world stops! 😉 Microprocessor based washing machines. BAH!

    Comment by JerseyJerry — September 25, 2010 @ 9:11 am

  3. All dry cleaners are not created equal. LOL. My rule: I always use a cleaner that has a plant on the premises. If they have to ship stuff out, it’s yet one more way for things to get lost or damaged.

    The one I use has a computer system. The first time they collected all my info, now all I have to do is give them my phone number and they can grab my stuff. If the system goes down, it’s still all handled by last name, first initial printed on the ticket and hung on the revolving racks that are alphabetized.

    We get a slip with a bar code as a receipt, that makes it easy because they don’t have to then input the total – just scan the slip. Mine is also a tailor – two ladies always there sewing. If I take stuff in for altering, they hand write the directions for that.

    Sounds like my place falls in between your old and new place. 😉

    Comment by Teresa — September 25, 2010 @ 11:43 am

  4. Time marches on. Computers are here to stay.

    Comment by Kevin — September 25, 2010 @ 9:20 pm

  5. I suspect that very little gets lost in this new guy’s place, not that it did in the old guy’s place. I’m going to be interested to see how this goes with the shorts… if they exactly match the ‘samper’.

    Comment by Bou — September 26, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

  6. Forget the dry cleaner—–you cracked me up with your quite vivid description of your body image!!! And you can cuss as well as this old lady !!!!

    Comment by Nancye Brady — September 26, 2010 @ 3:03 pm

  7. No ticky, no washy!

    Comment by Mike R. — September 26, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

  8. I understand your instinctive reaction towards computer I found the perfect background for my monitor at work, it fully describes the eccentric manner of it’s operation

    Comment by Dan Kauffman — September 28, 2010 @ 9:58 am

  9. It would have been faster to get your legs altered.

    Seconded on “whatever shall we do????” in the modern era. I’ve seen businesses come to a standstill because “the registers are down.” Uhm… you can’t start cooking my sandwich because the register is down? You can’t use a pocket calculator, or a pen and paper, to figure out what I owe you?

    And if you give a clerk $11.61 on a $6.11 bill and they stare at you blankly? Fan-TASTIC.

    Comment by nightfly — September 30, 2010 @ 2:25 pm

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