Dry Cleaner's Secret Society
Go on. I dare you to go into your local
friendly Dry Cleaner and ask to see a price list!
Shock horror. They actually have hidden microphones strategically dotted
around the shop to pick this aberrant request. The signal is then processed
for authenticity, scanned for sarcasm and part of it diverted to a voice
recognition and logging centre. Your speech patterns are digitally recorded
in the Audio Command Centre Dry Cleaner Co-ordinator, or A.C.C / D.C.C.
for short. Simultaneously, high quality video is recording your every
facial expression, every tic and lip quiver is analysed and entered into
the system. The nationwide network of Dry Cleaners now have you captured
onto their database for all time. Erasure is not possible and it is no
relief to know that these images are not shared with any state law enforcement
or revenue collection agencies.
Needless to say, your request to see a price list is met with furtive
looks of evasion that would grace a Dublin Castle Tribunal and excuses
that would do a Government Minister proud who had been caught with a brown
envelope in his pocket.
"A price list is it? Well we don't actually have one as such - what
is it you want cleaned sir?"
"Would that be a lady's or a gentleman's jacket sir?"
"A gentleman's, my own jacket in fact"
"Has it got flaps over the pockets sir?"
"And lapels sir, has it lapels and a folded collar?"
"Ah then, you're looking at €8, sorry, I mean €9.50. It
was €8 yesterday"
Now comes the interesting bit. You ask how much it would be to clean a
pair of trousers and it is like you have asked a 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire'
multiple choice question to a delighted contestant. The shop assistant
is off again with new wind in her sails. But now she reaches under the
counter and furtively thumbs through what appears to be a school copybook!
At no stage does the copybook rise above countertop level. Is this the
Holy Grail, the Fleece or Ark, the secret, elusive price list?
"That would be about (note: 'about') €6 sir, but have the trousers
"Yes they have"
"Oh then, that will be €6.50."
Now comes the crunch question from the shoppie. Her face lights up with
an unholy glee as she asks you the crunch question. A film of sweat spreads
across her brow with anticipation and a small trickle of drool escapes
the corner of her curled lips, practically willing you to give the required
"DO THE TROUSERS MATCH THE JACKET, Sir?"
Not realising you have walked into her trap you answer truthfully:
"Yes, the trousers DO match the jacket"
With a positive yelp of glee she announces:
"Well then sir, that makes them not really two separate items, which
would come to €16, but a matched SUIT which is one item and needs
special care by us to clean. It will cost you €20"
Game, set and match. She leans back from you, the confrontation over for
the moment. She knows she has won the battle of wits and slowly pats her
brow with a specially folded square of starched linen, kept on the counter
for that purpose. You know you dare not ask the cost of dry cleaning your
overcoat. The combinations would be endless. Does it have a belt? What
about a collar? What length is it? How heavy? (Who has ever actually weighed
a coat?) Does it have pleats?
Forget it. I'll go out and buy a new one instead. You have just survived,
but been beaten by a visit to the last surviving Secret Society, the Dry
4th February 2003