Somewhere on A1A...

Wednesday, July 16, 2003


Reading at Pickle Juice how she loathes doing laundry, brought back an awful memory.

At one time, not too long ago, I was the proud owner of four dry cleaning stores. The pride is long gone and thankfully so are the headaches of ownership. The realization that my life was on the wrong path and that other people's laundry was not in my future, came one busy morning as I was working behind the counter in the main store.

I was greeting and taking customers’ dirty clothes and checking them in, which includes tagging each item and checking the pockets for things like ball point pens, or anything else that might damage the garment and any others that are cleaned with it.

That morning I was checking and tagging a large load of clothes, separating laundry from dry cleaning and picked up a ladies suit, a large ladies suit. I picked up the pants of one suit and could feel something in one of the pockets. Holding the pants by the waist, flat, in front of me, my hands were over 2 feet apart, they were large pants with large pockets.

I reached into the pocket to remove what appeared to be a big wad of crusty tissues. At least they felt dry. Handling other peoples’ dirty clothes is bad enough, but handling strangers’ dirty handkerchiefs and tissues is disgusting.

Anyway, these large pants had deep pockets and my hand was in the pocket well past my wrist as I was grabbing the big wad of tissues. As I got my hand clear and looked at the offensive bundle I was both amazed and sickened to see I had pulled a bloody tampon wrapped in tissues from this woman’s suit. I freaked, dropped it into the trash, and ran to the rest room to wash my hands…. a couple of times. I had those awful feelings in the base of my throat of oncoming nausea, and it took me almost two hours to completely calm myself. Then it started to hit me.

How on earth did that get into a woman’s pocket? It was not a cheap suit, none of her clothes were cheap. What, on earth, made her put it in her pocket? What circumstances did she find herself in that she didn’t have another means to dispose of it? Did she change it in her car? I never saw the woman again, and couldn’t have asked her if I did. It’s an unsolved mystery.

I sold the stores within a month of that happening. As it was another disgusting event happened the day after and I finally got the message that investing in a dry cleaning business was nothing I was meant to be involved in.

The second event was a nursing home who brought in a big bag of laundry from one of their residents which had been separated into little garbage bags with notes on them “Dry Clean ASAP.” The man had had diarrhea for a few days and they just put his clothes into plastic trash bags for a few days. As soon as I opened the first bag I knew what it was, went to the rest room to vomit, told my manager to take care of them and I left for the day. Two sickening events in two days finally drove me to sanity. But I learned a few lessons.

1. I’ll never complain about the cost of dry cleaning.
2. You get what you pay for in dry cleaning service.
3. Handling strangers dirty clothing is disgusting and sometimes nauseating.
4. Check your pockets before you drop your clothes at the cleaners.

If anyone can explain to me how on earth that woman got that package into her pocket, or more importantly Why??? I’d love to hear it.


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