Back to School

Greetings Dear Ones!

It’s that happy time of year when clothing everywhere is on sale and the children are being rounded up, put on buses, and taken off to government-sponsored institutions where they can’t annoy their parents for six hours a day.  A recent influx of school uniforms to hem has set off a wave of nostalgia in me. Prudence Thimbleton smooths a plaid skirt, sniffs, and notes with satisfaction that the Catholics of today are looking just as lumpy and awkward as they did a hundred years ago when she was in school.  And girls are still fighting with their mothers about how high the hem should be.  In the spirit of “Back to School,” having gotten stuck behind a big yellow bus trundling its shipment of little inmates to the local primary school during my morning commute, I decided it would be fun to stop everything and issue a pop quiz to you, dear readers, to see how well you have been paying attention.  Nothing strikes terror into the heart of one who has not studied like hearing that there is a pop quiz, eh? We are all life-long learners.  We should expect pop-quizzes:

1.       My goal in getting you to do this quiz is:

a.       To satisfy the whims of my inner “teacher” who traded her chalkboard for tailor’s chalk and really misses getting to be bossy

b.      To make you think seriously about the glamorously decadent life of a seamstress

c.       To distract you from rummaging through your closets, examining your Fall wardrobe for stuff to bring here for us to fix (Please, no!  We are swamped….)

d.      To help you squander just a little more time before you break down and start doing the thing you really SHOULD be doing right now, instead of taking mindless quizzes.

2.       This is a service industry.  As such, the Customer is always:

a.       Right

b.      Late

c.       Confused about whether or not she can enter by the back door and if it is open but there is no sign

d.      All of the above

3.       When people see the large sign out in front of our shop, indicating that there is parking in the rear, they typically:

a.       Park in the rear lot

b.      Park at the neighbor’s house (on private property)

c.       Park on the sidewalk

d.      Park right in the road, ignoring the honks and extended middle digits of passing local drivers

e.      All of the above, but mostly b, c, or d.

4.       When one delicately points out that a customer has chosen an unsanctioned and inconvenient (for others) parking spot he or she will:

a.       Immediately spring to park somewhere else, with gracious apologies and gratitude for the information

b.      Tell me “I’m only going to be a minute,” in a tone whose subtext is actually, “I don’t give a rip, the heck with other people…”

c.       Mumble that it is too far to walk from the back of the parking lot all the way to the door (these are usually people dressed in athletic gear)

d.      Just keep talking as if she/he has not heard

5.       The people most likely to park in the back of the building and make the “long walk” to the front entrance are:

a.       The elderly

b.      The infirm

c.       The disabled

d.      Anyone except the robust looking woman in a velour jumpsuit on her way to the gym.

6.       We inform every customer at least 14 times when he or she drops off clothing to be fixed that we “don’t take plastic” (i.e. we don’t take credit or debit cards for payment). To a man, woman, and child, they smile and nod and say things like “oh, right! Good to know!”  Upon pick-up, when it is time to pay for services rendered, they invariably:

a.       Whip out a credit card and act stunned/miffed/insulted that we cannot accept it

b.      Ask if we take Venmo or Paypal instead

c.       Inform us that no one uses money anymore

d.      All of the above

7.       We don’t take credit cards because:

a.       The surcharge on cards is too great—there is not a large profit margin on hemming a pair of pants and people would squeal if we raised the prices.

b.      We are hoarding suitcases of cash in unmarked bills so that we can all disappear to Argentina after next Prom season.

c.       It is God’s honest truth that we who are clever enough to put a new two-way waterproof zipper in your decrepit anorak are simply too stupid to figure out how to make that “square” thing work on a phone with a slow-speed internet service.  We’ve tried. Over and over. We are good at what we do.  Technology isn’t what we do.  (Remember, we are those loveable, anachronistic creatures who still remember how to sew.)

d.      All of the above

8.       We are all working with quiet industry on our various projects when out of the blue, one of the seamstresses will mention a customer we have not clapped eyes on for months.  That customer then:

a.       Is never seen again

b.      Appears within 90 minutes or less with a heap of pants he needs to have hemmed by the next day. He proceeds to prance about in the dressing room for the next 45 minutes, trying to decide if one of his legs is maybe a wee bit shorter than the other…or maybe it is longer?

9.       Having accidentally realized our incredible powers to “MAN-ifest,” we decide to “Woman-ifest” and summon a customer we REALLY want to see: namely, the Cookie Lady, who once brought us a plate of freshly baked cookies to thank us.  She only did this once but we have called her “The Cookie Lady” in hushed and reverent tones ever since.  We focus our intentions on her and her glorious oven and she:

a.       Is never seen again

b.      Comes in six months later with some sweaters she wants mended for her dog (and no cookies…)

10.   We handle several wedding parties every month, all year round.  Normal Bridal sadism includes but is not limited to:

a.       Insisting all her bridesmaids buy a $300 dress they will NEVER wear again that needs $90 worth of alterations and is a color that makes healthy twenty-somethings look like they are in liver failure.

b.      Insisting they all wear dumb shoes that match and hurt their feet

c.       Crash dieting and snapping at everyone because she is “Hangry”

d.      Dropping a dress size at every fitting and then complaining about the cost of alterations

11.   Normal Bridal Sadism should NOT include (but sometimes does)

a.       Forcing a pregnant or nursing bridesmaid to wear the same  dress as everyone else, regardless of what must be done to make it fit her—like buying a second dress and sewing two together (Don’t laugh—we do it!)

b.      Asking her not to bring her nursing infant to the wedding as “children aren’t included”

c.       Insisting the bridesmaids all learn a dance routine they will have to perform at the reception—hemlines have to be up so no one trips.

d.      Insisting that the bride’s mother come dressed as a punk rocker, despite said Mother’s weeping and protestations in the fitting room.

12.   A man comes in to have three pairs of pants hemmed.  He goes into the fitting room to change. When he opens the door, I discover:

a.       A man wearing pants that are too long for him

b.      A sheepish grin on his face

c.       A pile of mystery “powder” all over the floor

d.      All of the above

13.   The mystery “powder” is

a.       Gold Bond (Extra strong Mint) powder with which he has enthusiastically powdered his nether regions

b.      Foot powder that has fallen out of his shoes like snow

c.       God knows what else

d.      All of the above

14.   The pants he is trying on are black.  After we are done pinning the first pair, he agrees to try the grey pair.  When the door opens again,  I now discover:

a.       He has hung the Black pair neatly on a hanger

b.      He has thrown the black pair on the floor and stepped all over them, covering them with white powdery foot prints

c.       He wants to know how much it will be to dry-clean pants he has never worn yet

d.      All his clothing is now covered in powder

e.      B,C,and D, but not A

15.   It’s raining cats and dogs.  A customer leaves the shop and dashes out to her car.  She is back in moments, asking if she can use our phone because:

a.       She cannot get to her phone

b.      She is locked out of her car

c.       She needs to call her husband (who is asleep IN THE CAR)

d.      All of the Above

16.   Which of the following statements is NOT true?

a.       Tailors are called “Cutters” because the Latin root taliare means “to cut”

b.      Being a tailor is fabulously lucrative—a highly admired trade with enviable social standing

c.       Tailors have a bunion named after them

17.    From the corner of a tailoring shop, one can see:

a.       A drug deal going down outside

b.      That your pants desperately need to be taken in

c.       Little slivers of the whole wide world

d.      All of the above

18.   The more one gets into the details of a tiny task and focuses on perfection:

a.       The more one achieves Zen mastery

b.      The less the customer will notice

c.       The more likely one is to thirst for adult beverages

19.   The most important Lesson I have learned from working as a Seamstress so far is:

a.       That pretty much every problem can be solved

b.      If you keep cutting, it will still be too short

c.       I’m not very good but at least I’m slow!

d.      I REALLY need to remove all the pins I have poked into my heavily padded bra, the Victoria Secret Bombshell that, in haste, makes a perfect double-barreled pin cushion, before I go to the grocery store!

20.   From sewing, or from ANY job you do that involves people, problems, and solutions, it is possible to learn:

a.       That people are nuts and you’re one of them

b.      That you would prefer to be a Hermit

c.       Compassion and Commitment to Excellence (whether it is appreciated or not)

d.      All you ever need to know about love and life and Being Awake in this lifetime

e.      All of the above


Well, it’s time to tally your score.  Give yourselves a hundred points for every correct answer and then scale your grades in the following manner, according to this rather warped “Bell” (ha ha)(couldn’t resist) curve:

If you are a Baby Boomer:  Well, you’ve worked hard, as you have your whole life probably.  We have you to thank for so many things but we still haven’t forgiven you for being the generation that thought it was a good idea to put linoleum over hardwood floors… Stick to wearing pleats and give yourself a B-

Gen X: You didn’t do quite as well as you could have, or should have.  You never do. You tried, of course you did, but your cynical vigilance just didn’t pay off this time.  Born too late to have Real Character and too soon to have digital skills, you are just beepers in a cell-phone world.  You could take the test again but it wouldn’t do you any good. I have bad news for you: waistline heights are going back up and you get a C+

Millennials: Congratulations! You Showed up.  Give yourself full marks just for breathing.  You did great. You Are Great.  Your trophy is in the mail. Nothing more is expected of you today—relax and get back on Snap Chat.  Don’t even THINK about tapering your pants again. You’re Done! A+

Gen Z: Ok, Homeschooler—you’re too smart already. Hand the phone back to Mummy or Daddy—don’t forget to reprogram it first so he or she can use it again without having to summon a Millenial. Please spend some of your day learning to sew!!!

Be well, my Darlings, and do Good Work!

Yours aye,