Friday, March 12, 2010

Taken to the cleaners

I’ve never been to a dry cleaner here, but I finally got embarrassed by the wrinkles in the wool slacks I often wear when we go out so I took them to the neighborhood dry cleaner. Like many home services, this place is state-run. Unlike the clothing-repair place I wrote about earlier, however, this was not a bargain.

I handed the lady my pants and she inspected them carefully. Then she got out a four-part form and filled it in, except for my name. I don’t think she has other customers named Vincent, so I wrote that. When I got home I entertained myself with a dictionary sussing out the rest of the form. First, there’s a bar chart where she indicated the amount of wear on the garment. The four boxes indicate 20%, 40%, 60% and 80%. She put a mark in the left side of the 20% box. Good start.

Below that, there were a bunch of check boxes with words completely outside of my vocabulary. When I couldn’t find one of them in my Russian dictionary I went online and learned that it was a Belarusian word. That’s a little puzzling because the alphabet they use is Russian and the parts I can read are definitely in Russian. Anyway, the boxes she checked are wrinkles, “lasy,” deformations and sweat something-or-other.

I put “lasy” in quotes; because that’s the translation I got back from Google Translate for ласы. An all-out web search revealed that this is a Belarusian word meaning tender, luscious or nice. Great. I think they’re nice pants too. I couldn’t even get that close to figuring out the word after sweat, but I assume they’re claiming sweat marks. I was never aware of any sweat marks on my pants, but it’s true that there are deep wrinkles at the crotch so maybe they figure these were sweated in.

I’m curious whether the price would have been any different if I’d talked her into checking a smaller number of boxes. Nine dollars seems pretty steep, given the cost of labor over here. I could have my pants cleaned for less back home. But here I had the pleasure of signing my name three times on the form with all the boxes, so what the heck. I got lots of attention for my money already.

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