Memories of a Surprise Dry Cleaning Gift…

It’s great receiving a gift at Christmas, your birthday, Hanukkah, Eid al Fitr, Diwali or other celebration isn’t it? Especially when you realise that someone has been thinking of you with love and care.

Yet equally important in busy holiday seasons is self-care. With more demands and time-squeezed lives we need to find every strategy we can to make sure that we are not running on empty.

Time and again we see the smiles on our customers’ faces when they collect their dry-cleaned clothing from us. It’s a double self-care gift because having cleaned and pressed clothing gives them a confidence boost, but it has also saved them time and energy.

Sometimes though, their dry cleaning can also be something of a ‘surprise’ gift.

At Ainslie Laundrette, we have a back-up system that allows us to search for garments by customers’ names when they forget their tickets. In these instances, customers frequently provide helpful guidance like: “it’s a bright orange dress”, or “it’s RM Williams moleskins and a shirt”. Often what we take off the rack for them is a green dress, and two pairs of Levi Straus jeans. Customers are confounded when presented with garments they admit are theirs but their ‘memory’ was of dropping off something completely different.

It may have something to do with ‘parked car amnesia’ where someone walks to where they’ve ‘remembered’ parking their car only to discover after 15 minutes of searching that it is parked elsewhere.

Science suggests that to prevent us getting overwhelmed with the tonnes of new information we are bombarded with daily, the brain ‘edits’ out things it perceives as irrelevant, redundant or boring, particularly if we’re distracted or the information is too similar to other information in our head. So remembering where you parked your car (or what you dropped off for dry cleaning) will be harder if you’re mulling over an argument; going over your ‘to do’ list; or speaking on the phone at the same time. And because you’ve put in dry cleaning scores of times before, you also have to force your brain to remember exactly what you put in this time, and forget all the other times.

On top of that, it seems memory is actually a pretty unstable thing. Recalling a memory can actually change it and make it stronger in comparison with other memories. The example psychologists use is thinking back to a particular birthday gift as a child and recalling receiving a Lego spaceship. Each time you recall that fact, the other things you received as gifts that day become weaker in comparison.

Few would doubt that one of the best gifts anyone can receive is that of time. So give yourself the gift of time these holidays, and drop your dry cleaning into us … we’ll always remember what it is.

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