It is late afternoon in my neighborhood’s dry cleaners.


Mounds of rumpled shirts – Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, and others – fill three carts, the morning’s drop-offs. Near one of these carts slouches a greying man, his slanted eyes fixed upon the striped shirt in his gnarled hands. Beneath his monk’s aspect lies a great soul, steeped in the present moment. The sorting must be accurate for the washing machines in the back.


Partly concealed by a partition sits the greying man’s wife; her blunt fingers feed a pants leg through her sewing machine. Piles of alterations stack a side table.


A bright-spirited daughter with short bobbed hair enthuses over patrons in melodic English that mimics the tonal patterns in her language. How she mastered ours is her secret. Other relatives work in the back.


Behind the cash register, affixed to a corkboard, lies a colorful display of this family’s big moments – weddings, babies, etc. – clues of their rich life, apart from the daily grind of their business, open six days each week, from sun up to sun down. They prefer to keep secret the circumstances that brought all of them to America from South Korea, as well as how they opened their business in 1994, awarded an A+ by the BBB and placed on Angie’s List in December 2002. Their expert services have kept the trendy looking good in business and social settings.


This extended family continues salting our neighborhood with their presence. We benefit from their flavoring.