I don’t think that’s how it normally works…

After work tonight I went to the dry cleaner to pick up some clothes. A man I hadn’t seen working there before gave them to me; I paid him and went off to dinner at a place called Cha for Tea, where everything has tea in it. I had set meal: a salad with tea in the dressing, soup with green tea wontons, spicy bamboo shoots with tea oil, tea-flavored shumai dumplings, with tea jello and pu-er tea for afters. Obviously that took a while, and then on the way home I started to remember that I’d taken my good dress to the cleaners, too. It wasn’t with the clothes I had.

So I went home, looked around the apartment and found no dress. The people at the dry cleaners don’t speak any English, but you get good at improvising when you don’t speak the language. Fortunately, since it was the dress I’d worn to Alex’s wedding, there were plenty of photos of me in it. So I printed out one that showed the whole dress and walked back to the cleaners, who fortunately were still open. This time the women who usually work there were there (and their babies – it seems to be a family business). I don’t think they’d realized I hadn’t been given the dress, but they caught on right away, gave it to me — and then gave me a little baggie with money and a receipt in it.

I’m still puzzled about that. It wasn’t because they’d made a mistake; it was corrected the same evening and anyway the baggie was already there. It looked to be about the same amount I’d paid, so I suspect what happened was that Ted had prepaid when we dropped the clothes off and I hadn’t realized and had paid again. People here do tend to be very honest – even taxi drivers won’t let you tip them if you try.

Still, I’ve never had anyone give me money to get my clothing cleaned before!

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