The place I go is Asian owned, run by a family complete with snarky teen daughter who runs the counter in the afternoons when I pick things up. She always tells me that I wear too much green. "What is it with you and green? Look at you, you even have green shoes. Green!" Then she snaps her gum and checks over her shoulder to make sure her parents are shaking their heads in disapproval.
In the morning, there's an older guy who is always working the counter when I drop my shirts off. He calls me "chief".
In fact, he says, "Light starch, right chief?" Every time. Same thing.
He seems friendly, but I always sense a tension underneath the words. He makes himself sound like a character out of an old movie. You know, the kind of guy they cast to make it seem like the main character in a movie has a regular routine. The dialog would be something like.
"Light starch, right chief?"
"Yeah Charlie, the usual."
"Something got you down, chief?"
Then the main character would go into a monolog describing his situation in bland terms. Charlie would offer some advice that would give a different perspective on the problem.
"Well, chief, every once in a while, we get a shirt with a stain that just won't come off. You know what we do?"
"We throw it away."
"Thanks Charlie. I think I see what you mean."
Then the main character leaves. That's exactly the character this guy wants to be when he works the counter.
Today I went in to drop off a few things and there was yelling going on back in the work area. I could see the older guy yelling loudly in Chinese at a younger guy, in his 20s, next to one of the presses. He kept pointing at a shirt he was holding. I waited at the counter, but they didn't notice me. After he finishes his speech the older guy glared at the younger guy for a few seconds. The younger guy turned around and started working again. Then, the old guy put his hand up over his shoulder and cracked him in the back of the head with an open hand. Hard.
No reaction afterwards. They both just freeze. I cleared my throat. The older guy set the shirt down and then swept a hand across the front of his bangs to straighten his hair. He smiled and approached the counter. "Light starch, right chief?" Same tone. Same thing. Every single time.