Keep it simple

Five days of consecutive sunshine: it’s time to have my raincoats cleaned. I throw the lot in a large, blue Ikea bag and head for my dry cleaner’s.

Scaffoldings have been put up along the street. Woodwork of grand, imposing townhouses is being sanded, primed, painted. A painter’s rendering of “Sonny Boy” sounds high above me.

A bit further on, a tidy row of folding chairs and opened beer cans stand in the shade. One of the builders hands over Chinese takeaways to his colleagues. They tear the tin foil off: it smells lovely!

In the park, trees and shrubs lazily waft the smell of roses, lavender, and other flowers over bent heads reading on benches. A few persons even lie sleeping on picnic plaids.

The dry cleaner’s street is a mess. Signs stand left, right, even above the sandpit: “No through road!”, “Road works!”, “Turn back!”, “No entry!”
Nobody heeds them.

The local pub’s St Bernard is snoring on the warm pavement.
His basket lies forgotten in the middle of the road.
Kids dig holes and build castles in the sand.
Boards form a lane from one end to the other.

In no hurry, pavers lean on shovels, brooms, stacks of bricks.
“You’ve got plenty room, honey. Ain’t he cute!” they tell cyclists, mums with prams, everybody struggling through the sand, over the boards, past the dog.

At the cleaner’s, the door stands wide open.
A pleasant surprise, for when the sun’s out, the owner’s lunch hours turn flexible.
During the summer, one regularly arrives to find the door shut with a notice “Out for lunch, back at 12:30” – at three in the afternoon.

“What can I do for you?” the owner asks.
“A lot, I want these all cleaned and water whatever.”
“Water resistant. Now part of the treatment. Saves me problems. Don’t like problems. Ready Wednesday.”
“Oh”, I react overwhelmed, “Brilliant! How much?”
He tells me the price for a coat.
I add up, but still not taking everything in, ask: “So how much for my winter coats?”
He stares at me.
I must be daft.

Then I start laughing: “Of course, no problem: same price!”
Laughing loudly, he starts labelling my coats: “Same price keeps it simple. Life’s too short to complicate things. Sun’s out! Enjoy life!”

Wish there were more like him.

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