Monday, November 3, 2008
Every week I go to Meranda’s dry cleaning. It is not too far, but not within walking distance, a remnant from when we lived on the other side of the neighborhood. I park the car right in front, five minute parking for customers, sometimes with a pile of washing so big (I let it develop again), I cannot see where I am going. Awkwardly, I will push the doorbell from behind the pile and Meranda rushes out from the back room to take over. At this point I usually need to run back to pick up the stray garments that are lying in a trail on the pavement. I take the dry cleaning, the shirts to be ironed (no starch) and the king size duvet covers (with starch), all at a fraction of European prices, a luxury I will surely miss one day. When we have had a lot of guests or after vacation, I will also bring her bags of washing to catch up. I get it back all clean and folded and wrapped tightly in blue paper, nearly too good to use again. Meranda also does little repairs when necessary, taking up Jip’s school pants, patching his jeans and fixing loose buttons.
I am a loyal customer and as a reward Meranda has softened up a bit since I started going. Meranda is Vietnamese and talks in mono-syllables; “yes”, “no” and “when you pick up?” She nods her head profusely when she has understood my request, but never a smile. Just business. That hasn’t changed, but now I get a “how are you today?”, with feeling I believe, especially when I have skipped a week. And I no longer have to tell her what I want, because she already knows, including my name. Lately, she will already have brought my dry cleaning from the back room to the front, ready for pick up, as she sees me arriving through her window, struggling with a new load, which I see as an indication our relationship is deepening.