In Australia! Ah, gotcha. You thought you were in for a Game of Thrones post. Well, stay with me on this one. The twists, turns, bloodlust and bare breasts in this tale will blow your mind, too! Ok, take that with a grain of salt.
As I was saying winter is coming here in Australia, which really just means the locals will freeze their asses off in the frigid 60° daytime high.
I packed exactly two sweaters for my time here in Oz; both of which are in need of a bath. The hotel where I’m staying offers a dry cleaning service that includes “woolens” at $19.10 per item. Let me repeat that, $19.10 to dry clean a four-year-old sweater.
Could you justify paying a third of what the sweaters cost in the first place? In Manhattan, the nice Koreans down the block near my apartment would douse those woolens in toxic chemicals for $5.50 a piece! A near 300% increase is out of the question. I’m sure you’re thinking why not just buy another sweater, you cheap skate? Well for two reasons: Yes, I’m cheap and Australia is one of the most expensive countries in the world. And B.) If I add another shred of fabric, my suitcase will bust open in cargo.
With errands to run around Melbourne’s Central Business District, I packed my sweaters along assuming I’d stumble upon a dry cleaner in my travels.
You can’t walk two blocks in Manhattan without passing a sign that looks like this, and anything would be cheaper than the racket my hotel is running:
I walked around for a total of ninety minutes and found not a single cleaner. Ninety minutes seems excessive for twenty square blocks, but the layout of Melbourne demands detours; it’s a walking city filled with curious alleyways containing hidden gems unseen from the main streets. A tiny café, a great restaurant, or the unmarked door of an outright speakeasy – all tucked away out of sight from the main drag. I spent most of my time wandering down shadowed alleyways trying the knobs of interesting looking doors where in most other cities would seem like a recipe for rape.
I began at a tailor. Seems logical, right? No dice. He recommended the “news agency” around the corner. Skeptical, but willing to give it a shot, the conversation went like this:
“I hear you do dry cleaning?” knowing I sounded like a fool.
“Ehh? We sell magazines and newspapers.” As if to say, duh, you stupid American.
To which I mentally replied, Shut up, I knew I couldn’t get dry cleaning done at the same place where I could buy scratch tickets and porn mags.
From there, I visited the Ever-Unhelpful-But-Why-The-Hell-Not Information Booth on Bourke Street. A sweet older woman directed me to another tailor. Her directions were precise, “Cut through the David Jones department store, when you come out the other side, go down the alley on the left and head towards the alleyway off that alleyway and you’ll see a sign.” Uh, OK.
Actually, I know that sounds like swim through the Sea of Enlightenment until you approach the Bridge of Despair where you’ll meet the Troll King and answer his questions three, but I promise it made sense.
I got side tracked cutting through the department store because this…
Was advertised next to this…
…and I thought your twelve-year-old-boy sensibilities would appreciate that, Reader.
Once I found the tailor down the alley-of-the-alleyway who, no, did not do dry cleaning, he directed me to a lottery shop. I mean, what the eff?! Is there a different word for “dry cleaning” in Australia? One of the great wonders of the world!
Boiling over with frustration having completely failed in dropping off my sweaters, I finally decided to just go home and look it up the old fashioned way — on Yelp.com. I have a feeling there’s some cool 1920’s themed dry cleaner/speakeasy down an alleyway that’s just a door where you knock and give the password: “Lightly Starched”