MARGARET Wilson was a familiar face at Johnsons Dry Cleaners in Kirkintilloch for 15 years – sharing smiles and tears with her customers.
The 64-year-old grandmother is now happily retired and has cast an eye back over her eventul times in Cowgate. Strange finds over the years included a £50 note and bullets!
“We had happy times when the new bride brought in her wedding dress to be cleaned, told us about her wedding and showed us pictures, and sad times when someone brought a suit into be cleaned to take to the undertakers.
“The stories we got to hear about how garments came to be in such a state were unbelievable. The favourite from the ladies was ‘I loaned it to my friend and she gave it back like that’.
“Most garments, however, were just from customers keeping their clothes clean and fresh.
“Younger customers thought nothing of paying a fortune for a dress then bringing it in covered in alcohol.
“It was amazing the number of people who did not return to pick up garments. I would try to contact them, but even when we did only a small percentage would come in.
“Some phone numbers had been changed – usually mobile numbers – and some people had moved away. Sometimes very expensive garments remained uncollected. These were given to charity shops after a year.
“It was sad when my customers of over 10 years would come in and say that due to retirement and not needing suits cleaned they wouldn’t be in as often.
“Sometimes I would never see them again and often wondered how they are today.
“It was hard when someone would come in and say their partner had passed away and would shed a tear in the branch.
“The items we found in pockets were again unbelievable – they included passports, bank cards, money and the unmentionable – usually not opened thankfully!
“Usually when we found money in a gent’s pocket and the wife came to collect the cleaning she would laugh and say ‘well, he has had it now’.
“I once phoned a customer to say we had found a £50 note in his pocket and he insisted it wasn’t his, but it was. His girlfriend took it so we never heard anything more .
“Most people wanted to give us a reward for handing money back, but it wasn’t allowed so we would get chocolates or biscuits.
“The strangest find was bullets in a jacket pocket.
“I had to contact the police. It turned out to be a farmer who had a gun licence, but he got his knuckles wrapped for being careless.
“Working in a dry cleaners was hard work, but certainly not boring.
“I could go on forever, but just wanted to say to all my customers I am very happy retired now. I have taken up daytime activities at the local gym and love taking my dog long walks.
“I’m so sorry I never got the chance to say goodbye to all my regular customers, but do wish them all well for the future.
“They may have heard various reasons for my sudden departure from Johnsons in January this year.
“It was never my intention to do this as my customers meant a lot to me. I became good friends with many of them.
“There were issues at the time, but any issues were later resolved. I wish Johnsons and their staff every good wish for the future.”
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