The Cleaners

Since I moved into my new apartment, I started going to a new dry cleaner. This particular cleaner has an Asian mother-daughter tandem. One woman rings you up, the other one touches and rolls up the dirty clothes.

She does this without putting on any sort of gloves or protective covering. This disturbs me. I mean, I could work at the hepatitis clinic and spend my day wiping syringes on my shirts and then bring those clothes straight to the cleaners. Just think of all the awful things that could be on your clothes.

Perhaps this is revealing too much about myself, but when I don’t have a napkin or towel nearby, I sometimes use my pants. Lord knows what else the rest of the population is wiping on their pants. Mustard…sweat…snot.

So on my last trip to the dry cleaners to pick up my pants and shirts, I received a surprise. After I gave the nice lady at the counter my receipt, her mother retrieved my clothes and came back with a little bag of a new prescription strength antiperspirant. She handed it to me and said “Do you get this yet?”

My brain immediately went into overdrive. What the hell was this woman saying? Was she honestly asking if I had ever used antiperspirant before? Was she condescending to me saying that my shirts stink?

Listen lady, I know I sweat a lot, but it’s not like it’s my choice. I don’t wear wool undergarments and run up and down stairs so I can walk around town with really cool sweat stains under my arms. Some of us are just warmer than others!

After I had that entire conversation in my head, I responded with a much calmer, “What?”
“Do you get this yet? Do we give this to you?”

It was a gift; they were giving me a free gift trial size of a new antiperspirant.

“Oh, no no, I didn’t get this yet,” I said smiling. I thanked her.

“One man come back, he like it so much he ask us if we have more.” And she burst into giggles. I giggled with her.

But now that I had gotten my heart rate all riled up, I probably could have used the new antiperspirant right then and there. It was “prescription strength” antiperspirant. Reading those words on the box made me confused.

Had doctors just stopped writing prescriptions for antiperspirant? Were the medical limits of antiperspirant recently changed? Shouldn’t this have been something that was in the news? The last time I checked when I needed something that was prescription strength I did not immediately go to the people who wash the fruit punch stains out of my pants.

Nonetheless I thanked the nice ladies, and accepted my free gift. After all it was a pretty cool free gift. And it made sense that the drycleaners were chosen as a dispersal point. As it turns out, I quite enjoy this new antiperspirant. It makes my arm pit smell like a bushel of flowers.

Not bad right?

But the scenario got me thinking. Maybe it is because the dry cleaner handles your most intimate articles of clothing that they feel they are entitled to have such insight into your life.

Think about it. They know your favorite colors, your favorite articles of clothing, where you sweat the most, and whether or not you are a raging slob. But what would happen if all the service industry people we interacted with on a daily basis gave us “recommendations” without us asking for them.

Imagine walking into a pharmacy to pick up your prescription, the pharmacist taking one look at you, and handing you a pack of condoms. What would you do? I’m not sure if I would be more upset that she thought I was a whore, or if she thought I were so ugly that she didn’t want me to reproduce.

Or better yet, imagine being at the supermarket. You put all your food on the conveyor belt, the nice lady scans everything, looks at your food, looks at you, and then reaches behind the counter and pulls out a box of diet pills to add to your cart.

What the hell? Knowing myself, I probably would have just laughed, but would you? I can just hear the outrage of people in my head. “HOW DARE YOU?” We love asking advice from other people, but unsolicited advice makes us go bat guano.

It is funny how much you can learn about somebody just by the things that they purchase. Maybe we should pay attention to some of those suggestions? Or maybe we shouldn’t. All I’m saying is I did, and now my armpits smell like tulips. Not bad right?