My Metric: The Dry Cleaners Rack

Memorial Day in the US marks the unofficial beginning of summer, particularly here in New England.  For my family it marks our first trip to our family’s summer cottage, an event we look forward to the moment we close it up in September/October the prior year.

Given the various stages of the economic recovery, it’s also a good time to reflect a bit on where we stand. I have been intrigued for some time now by the recurring feature in Fortune Magazine called “My Metric.” In it they talk to one senior executive or another and they detail in a short sentence what metric they use to track the economy. One recent example was watching the number of times they were offered an upgrade to business class (in the recession, a lot because nobody was flying for business)

For me, I have taken to watching the rack at my dry cleaner.

I have the good fortune of having a dry cleaner at the end of my driveway. This means that I probably go more often than I should because it’s easier than doing the ironing. And since I was fortunate to remain employed the last few years, I went regularly.

A year ago it was ugly. About then I noticed that the owners weren’t pressing shirts, they were watching TV, and the racks were noticeably empty. And the big machines weren’t running non-stop making it unbearably hot in there.

Today? Pressing shirts continuously again, hot, and a much fuller rack.  As sure a sign as any that the recovery is in full swing if there ever was one.


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