The Dark And Twisted Dry Cleaner Conspiracy To Steal My Hangers
They're all working together
A Whole New Wardrobe For My Distinguished American Physique
Last year I went a little overboard and bought a bunch of new suits to wear to work. I cleared out some old suits that I had worn into the ground.
I stumbled on an American brand of suit that really fit me to a “T” so I decided to buy a bunch of them. I’m a chubby American guy, so the European suits don’t do it for me anymore.
I’m not on the Mediterranean Diet. I’m on the Chili’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Islands fine hamburgers circuit. This American suit maker understands my physique.
The suit I serendipitously found fit me so well that, over about two or three months, I bought ten of them. I’m a trial attorney, so I need enough suits to go for two weeks without wearing the same one twice. The jurors like some suit variety as the trials sometimes drag along during the boring parts.
You don’t wanna see Pat Sajak in the same suit two days in a row on ‘Wheel of Fortune.’
The Hangers Make All The Difference In The Bedroom…Closet
My wife Tracy had a closet company come in and build her a nice huge closet, with a tiny little corner of it devoted to me. One of the nice things about buying the same suit ten times, in different colors, is that the fancy hangers they come on are all the same, and look really cool all lined up.
I’ll confess, I became a little obsessed with those hangers, and that they all be the same, and lined up nicely, a uniform distance apart. If my tiny little corner has to be tiny, at least let it be meticulously organized.
No Fancy Tailors For Me, Strip Mall Dry Cleaners Only
I get my suits tailored at the dry cleaners. The two dry cleaners by my house have on-site tailors, or seamstresses, I should say, as both are women, the Asian Lady, and the Turkish Lady.
The one time, a few years ago, that I went to a “fancy tailor-man” downtown, he did a shockingly horrible job of simply sewing cuffs on a pair of suit pants. He charged too much. Then the threading started to fall apart within weeks of the job he did. No more “fancy tailors” downtown for me. The ladies at the strip mall were just fine.
The Dry Cleaner That Is Closer And Easier To Get To
The first suit I took to the dry cleaner which is closer and easier to get to at my house. I went into the store, and into the ridiculously ramshackle changing room to put on the suit to show the seamstress. I needed the pants and the sleeves of the jacket altered. The seamstress is the very nice Asian Lady.
When I enter the changing room at this dry cleaner, I feel like I am magically transported to a very far away, tropical location. This is a tropical location that is very humid and has lots of mosquitos. I feel like there could be elephants bathing outside and splashing water on their backs.
But I know none of those things is out there. I know that because the curtain is so poor a barrier between me and the Asian Lady, that I can see her eyes as I pull my pants on and pull up the zipper.
See, the curtain is on a rod, and the rod is much longer than the curtain. So on either side of the curtain, there is a two-inch gap where the Asian Lady and the other customers can watch me change in and out of my pants.
I step out of the changing booth, in my socks, with the pant legs flopping around. The seamstress bends down, folds up one of the cuffs of the pants. She pins the cuff, showing me the break of the pant, and makes some marks with a little piece of white chalk she holds in her fingertips. Then she adjusts and marks the suit jacket sleeves. By this point, I’m sweating like Elvis in Hawaii.
The other customer ladies, and the little children whose hands they are holding, all stare at me. They seemed to be amazed that I am doing all of this right there in front of them.
“Okay, you’re done,” says the Asian Lady.
“You want to pay now, or when you pick-up?” asks the other lady running the cash register.
“I’ll pay later when I pick-up. Who knows? I might get hit by a bus between now and then.” I say, chuckling.
Neither the Asian Lady nor the cashier laughs.
“Hi, I’m here to pick up my suit. Here’s the slip.” I say, handing it to the woman that I’ve never seen behind the counter before.
She goes to the big rack, pushes the button, and the thousands of articles of clothing ride around like a big roller coaster until my suit appears. She stops the ride and pulls my suit down.
“Okay, here it is,” she says hanging the suit on the metal rack near the cash register.
I hand her my credit card, and she puts it in the card machine. The machine spits out the receipt and I am signing it when I notice they have the suit on a janky “fake” suit hanger. This contraption is some piece of thin plastic over a wire hanger.
“Wait a second? Where’s the fancy hanger?” I ask.
“What do you mean?” the lady asks, handing over the receipt, and a pen for me to use to sign.
“Where is the thick black plastic hanger that the suit was on?” I say.
“Oh. I don’t know,” says the lady, stepping back a little defensively.
Now I see the Asian Lady seated at the sewing machine, kind of peeking over her shoulder meekly.
“I need the big plastic hanger that the suit came on,” I say, remaining calm.
“Well, I don’t know where that hanger is,” says the “new” lady kind of being a little surly. “Do you know where the hanger he’s talking about is?” she asks the seamstress lady.
The Asian Lady does not really respond.
“Let me see who handled your order,” says the surly lady. “Oh, Cassie handled it. Let me call Cassie.”
She calls Cassie, right there in front of me, on the store phone.
“Yeah, there’s this guy here who wants to know where the hanger is,” says the surly lady. “Uhm-hm. Yep. Yep. A suit hanger. Um-hm. Yep. Uhm-hm. That’s what I said.”
The surly lady looks up from the phone.
“We don’t keep those,” she says to me.
“What are you talking about?” I say to her.
“We throw those out,” she says.
Now the blood in my veins turns green. Like the Incredible Hulk, a bead of sweat forms and rolls down my forehead. I swipe it with the back of my hand. Muscles in my back and in my thighs start to expand through the layers of adipose fat and threaten to rip through my clothing.
“Wait a sec. You throw out the thick black plastic hangers, that have the embossed plate on them that say “Hickey Freeman?” The hangers that hang the suit perfectly? And that comes shipped with the suit from across the country in New York. The hanger that the fancy store uses to hang the suit?”
I’m riffing here.
“Let me just make sure I’ve got this right. Somebody takes the suit off of that fancy special hanger and throws that hanger into the trashcan. And then that person puts the suit on this fake flimsy piece-of-crap hanger?”
I keep going. I can’t help it.
“Now we have this hanger. This hanger that they use to hang the fake paper suits that they put bums in, down at the morgue when bums die destitute. The paper suits they put the bums in the caskets wearing. You’re giving me one of these crappy hangers that they hang the fake suits on. That’s what you’re giving me, this fake hanger piece of crap?”
I know there are such fake suits because they showed them to us during the field trip to the morgue in my high school class called “Death and Dying.”
“And you want me to believe that? Is that the story you want me to believe?” I ask.
The surly lady is staring at me with her mouth open, but still letting me know with her gaze that she wishes I would have a cardiac arrest and die on the floor immediately.
“And you want me to pretend that I don’t know that Cassie, or the owner of this place, did not steal my hanger? And that the hanger is not in the back of Cassie’s car. Or is not already in her closet, with one of her dresses on it. Or hanging one of her husband’s suits? Is that the story you’re telling me here, that I’ m supposed to believe?” I ask.
The surly woman is holding the phone, slightly off her ear now, so that Cassie can hear this insane tirade straight from the horse’s mouth. My mouth.
“Tell ya what. I’m going to give you guys 48 hours to get that hanger back to me. And if you don’t, I’ll take the nine other suits I was going to have tailored here, over to the Turkish Lady. Even though its farther away, and a little less convenient, and the Turkish Lady is not open on Sundays.”
I let them know what a big account they’re about to lose. I’m like a dry cleaning “whale.”
The surly lady thinks about it for a minute. Then she snaps back to her usual self.
“You can do . . . whatever . .. you . . . need . . . to . . . do,” she says in a perfectly sassy, sing-song voice.
I gotta admit. That was a pretty good response.
The Internet Research
“What are you doing?” my wife asked.
“I’m researching how much Hickey-Freeman hangers cost on eBay,” I tell her.
“Oh boy. Are you serious? Don’t you have any work to do? You know, our anniversary is coming up, have you bought me anything? Or researched any romantic getaways? Let me just answer that myself. That would be a ‘No’ right?” says Tracy. “Shocker,” she says.
“Do you know that they charge as much as $20.00 for one of those hangers? And these hangers on eBay are not even the nice ones. Like the one I had.”
“Why did you leave the fancy hanger at the dry cleaner? If it was so important to you” Tracy asks.
“Because not in my wildest dreams would it ever occur to me that they would steal my hanger. Or claim they threw it in the trash. That’s like taking your car to the dealer for an oil change, and when you go to pick it up, there’s a tire missing,” I say.
I’m pretty proud of that analogy I just made.
“You’re a buffoon,” says Tracy.
The Non-Apologetic Phone Call
A day later, my cell phone rang.
“Is this Mr. Clune?” said the female voice.
“This is the dry cleaner. We have the hanger,” she says.
“Great! I’ll be right over to get it!” I say excitedly.
“Tracy, I’m going to the dry cleaner! They have my hanger!” I yell upstairs to Tracy as I head to my car.
“Oh thank God! Hoo-ray,” I hear Tracy’s voice upstairs, dripping with sarcasm.
“Hi, I’m Mr. Clune here to get my hanger,” I say to the woman at the front desk.
It’s the same woman who handled the initial transition when I brought the suit in. It’s Cassie. She looks up and sees me, and I can see her expression change to mild disgust.
“Oh . . . here,” she says, as she reaches under the counter and produces my beloved hanger, and sticks it out at me.
I take the hanger in my hand. I can’t resist . . .
“Where was it?” I ask.
I can see the slight flinch in Cassie’s face. Like the facial tic that Inspector Clouseau’s boss used to get in the Pink Panther movies. I know what she is thinking.
She’s thinking “Can’t this fat bastard just take the thing? Or does he have to rub it in too?”
“Oh, they took it to the other location by accident,” she says.
What does that even mean? I think to myself.
I Had To Go To The Turkish Lady Anyway
I took another suit back to the same dry cleaner. I bought the suit online, and the dumb suit came with none of the buttons sewn on it. The four buttons that go on the sleeves were not sewn on, so I brought them to the nice Asian Lady.
I kind of knew we were in trouble when she looked at the sleeves with the same shock as I did back home when I saw that we had to sew the buttons on. When I came back to pick up the jacket, she had sewn the buttons on right through the inner lining of the sleeve.
It looked like I had sewn the buttons on.
“You’re not going to charge me for this are you?” I asked as I held the sleeve up to her face.
“No,” she said without a fight.
The Turkish Lady
I walked into the new dry cleaner where the Turkish Lady does the tailoring. I showed her the sleeve.
“Tsk-tsk!” said the Turkish Lady, as her eyes bulged. “She didn’t charge you for that did she?” she asked.
“No,” I said.
“Good. You have to undo the lining, then sew it back up,” she said.
“I knew you would know what to do,” I said.
“Pick up in three days, on Thursday.”
“Okay,” I said.
I left the dry cleaner and went next door to the grocery store to pick up one or two items. I even threw in some flowers for Tracy.
I did not have to wait in line long, because I only had a few items and I cut ahead of someone who had a big cart full of groceries.
When I Got Home
I came into the kitchen, and Tracy looked up from her laptop.
“Oh, flowers, that’s so nice honey …” she said.
“Shit! Goddammit! Shit! No!” I screamed into Tracy’s face.
I just remembered that I left the hanger with the Turkish Lady.
Three Days Later
All three days I stared at the ceiling at night.
There’s no way they’ll try to steal my hanger. That’s impossible. That would be like Die Hard. Where he keeps getting trapped in tall buildings with terrorists. That could never happen twice.
On the third day, I went to see the Turkish Lady. When I walked in, I saw that the Turkish Lady was not there, but her nice friendly daughter was working the front desk. I handed her the ticket, and she made the roller coaster spin around until my jacket appeared.
The hanger was gone.
© Copyright 2020 Jack Clune