Sometimes you just never know what awaits you at the dry cleaners.
I was simply on my way home from work -- yup, straight home and out of these work clothes. But as I walked up the subway steps I realized my dress slacks were a touch dirtier than what's typically considered acceptable, and that jarred my memory's short-term errand roster: you must pick up dry cleaning.
Upon entering the establishment I sensed a little tension, and as I wafted in a full breath of Korean-American air, my original suspicions were confirmed. A straggly haired Jewish lady in her 60s, whose recent restaurant acquisition of 10 Splenda packets and a silverware set was drastically offset by a net loss of shekels at the weekly Mah Jongg game, stood tenaciously defiant in her belief that the proprietor of this dry cleaner had failed in his service-sector duty to properly repair her stretchy exercise pants. Did I make up the Splenda/Mah Jongg part? Probably, but you never know.
He's my regular dry cleaner but I don't know his name...so let's call him Mr. Kim. The two of us talk all the time, but I only understand every seventh word he wheezes. I know he quit smoking when he lost circulation in his legs. I know the way he says "circulation" is really awesome. I know he loves both the Yankees and the Mets, so he clearly wants to please everybody. But above all else, he's never done wrong by me and he always smiles when I walk in. In other words, he gets the benefit of the doubt here.
I walked into some light haggling (her reliogosity just a coincidence). She had the stitched goods in hand by the door; he puffed his cheeks behind the counter and clutched the receipt. They both looked pissed. [Let's call her] Estelle was adamant that Mr. Kim's subpar work would not be compensated at full cost, and he was rhythmically chanting "You pay now! You pay thirty!" back at her. She offered $15 in return for a "terruhble jawb."
With her stretchy exercise pants safely secured in a plastic bag, she then attempted to flee without paying. Mr. Kim instinctly jumped out from behind the counter with the closing speed of a shutdown cornerback, blocking the door before she could even grab the handle. "Don't you touch me," she bellowed, and for the first time the Mexican assistant and I locked eyes and telepathically agreed: what the fuck? [ed. note, I'm not racist on that last point, the dude actually is from Mexico, the World Cup brought us together.
They paused for a second, and Mr. Kim decided to institute a quick cooldown period, saying he had another customer -- me. He went back behind the counter and made a move for my clothes. That's when she made a move for the door and ran for it. Out she scurried, followed closely by a surprisingly cat-like, diminutive elderly Asian former ninja. I looked at my Mexican friend and shrugged. He smiled, but he looked pretty tired.
Then I heard Estelle scream. "Call the police! Help! Call the police! Help me!" She yelled all the way down the street and a crowd began to form. I walked outside and saw Mr. Kim bearhugging the woman from behind almost as if he were sizing her up for a belly-to-back suplex, also known as a German suplex. He reached around her and grabbed for the bag that contained the pilfered patched pants, trying to gain possession and a bit of upper hand.
The crowd grew, and her screams grew louder as well. Mr. Kim tried to drag Estelle back into the store, and she resisted with all her might like each of my last few dates. There was now a full-on tug of war taking place over these pants, on a public street. At that point an Eastern European woman in her late 30s/early 40s walked up calmly and said, "I get my clothes dry cleaned here, what's the problem?" It's as if she flashed a badge, but no, all that qualified her to mediate this dispute was a non-threatening face and some old laundry invoices.
The sudden mediator declared she "used to work in fashion" and asked to see the pants; the lady obliged. We stepped back into the store -- Mr. Kim, Estelle, Mediator, Random Guy and me -- and the screaming returned. At that point I filled our reluctant adjudicator in on what had transpired, and the other four held on my every word like this was sworn testimony. I told it like I saw it, and the mediator asked Estelle if all this were true.
She then threw $20 at Mr. Kim and yelled "You fucking owe me five dollahs, you gawdamn cheater," which was met with a resounding "No, you owe me now, you get out of he-ah now." With small claims court avoided and both sides unhappily happy with the brokered deal, it was time for Estelle to walk out and for Mr. Kim to blow off steam with some old-fashioned venting. Obviously I was the recipient of that venting, of which I only understood every thirteenth word.
"Just let it go, calm down, everyone's got shitty customers, right? Just gotta shake this one off, forget about that stupid bitch, you were right the whole time" I told Mr. Kim. He seemed to agree and retrieved my clothes -- oh yeah, all I wanted was my dry cleaning, and here I've been watching and partially refereeing a more awkward fight than Screech and Horshack.
"Twenty-four fifty," Mr. Kim told me, showing me the receipt. I looked at him as stone-faced as I could get and said forcefully, "No way! I'll give you half." If ever there were an award for Best Ad Lib Joke That Cracked Up the West Village Homosexter Behind You In Line at the Dry Cleaners, I'd be giving my acceptance speech right now.
Even Mr. Kim laughed at what had just transpired. What can I say, like Dr. Allan Pearl
, I love breaking people up.Slack Plug of the Day
: Today I'm pimping myself out, which sounds kinda like blog masturbation. Our brand new live music blog Hidden Track
is almost one whole week old today, so go check it out and make me smile downstairs.Slack Link of the Day
: Usually it's one and done, but today I've got a couple of things I think youse'll wanna read: How Borat hoaxed America
, Police hunt train defecator
, Men who use mobile phones face increased risk of infertility
(um, isn't that every dude?), and this article about kinky sex ed
at a Canadian university that contains the instant classic quote: "It's not sexy sex sex, where we're talking about whips and chains, but we will talk about whips and chains."Slack Video of the Day
: See the post below, Best MOS Ever
.Slack Song of the Day
: I've got some moe. on the brain this morning, so let's head back to 2/10/05
for the Tsunami Benefit with John Medeski, Sam Bush and Trey. This definitely ranked as the best show I saw last year, an all-night rager that sprung out of nowhere to floor an unsuspecting crowd. Here's Plane Crash
, Night Speaks To a Woman
and Peaches en Regalia