No-Cost Seamstress

I had ripped my pants and I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to keep wearing the garment on my legs, but because the material was so silky smooth, I didn’t think a repair was possible. Past experience had taught me that the silkier the garment, the less likely it was that it could be fixed. But damn it, I had to try.

I went to my dry cleaner and asked if they did repairs. They said they did not. BUT they gave me the name of a seamstress named Mrs. Dayko who worked on my town's main street and said, "If anyone can fix it, she can!” Hearing that made me feel as energized as a character in an eighties movie montage. I headed off to find my seamstress.

I quickly located Mrs. Dayko’s alteration shop. It was two floors, and it felt more like a residence than a business. I wandered in through the entrance and around the first floor, which was covered with mannequins and dress dummies with partially-sewn outfits on them. This seemed like the real deal! (but keep in mind, I know diddlysquat about seamstresses).

I called upstairs and a woman’s voice called back, and though her response had a pleasant tone, it wasn’t a word I understood. Mrs. Dayko descended and saw me holding my ripped pants. I immediately started unloading on her.

“I don’t know if you can fix these,” I said. “There’s like, some kind of inner lining that’s also ripped. It looks like it started at the seam but it went a little outside of it. I wear these about once a week and I really don’t want to find another pair. The dry cleaner down the road gave me your name. So how does it work - do I leave them here? Do you need to measure my inseam or something? Is there a price list?”

Mrs. Dayko said something incomprehensible to me, and only then did I realize that the woman didn’t speak English, so I’d wasted all my pants-related concern on her. I think she was asking me a question, so I reverted to pure visuals and just held up my pants, pointing to the rip.

“Ah,” she said, taking the pants from me.

Mrs. Dayko went upstairs to what is presumably her workshop. Machine started whirring up there, and there was buzzing and that cool metal sound that scissors make. “She’s probably giving me that rare ‘Old World Craftsmanship’!” I thought. But then I realized that we hadn’t talked about a price. That seemed weird. What if she was super expensive? Old World Craftsmanship probably doesn’t come cheap. Uh oh.

I heard footsteps and there was Mrs. Dayko on the steps - carrying my newly-repaired favorite pants! I was so happy!

“So, how much do I owe you?” I asked. I pulled out my wallet to help convey the idea that I wanted to pay her with dollars.

“Thanks!” I said, inspecting them. They were as good as the day I bought them. “They look great!”

Mrs. Dayko smiled and said more words that I couldn’t understand. She was surely viewing me the same way.

“So, how much do I owe you?” I asked. I pulled out my wallet to help convey the idea that I wanted to pay her with dollars.

Mrs. Dayko looked confused. “Wha?” she asked. “Oh no no no.” She pointed to the clock and said something that I think meant, “It only took one minute.” I could probably get a job as a linguist.

“I have to pay you,” I said. “You fixed them!” I held up my pants to show her, as if she somehow forgot about her own repair work from a minute ago.

Mrs. Dayko shook her head again. “No no no,” she said, moving away from me and beginning her next project.

This seemed pretty crazy. The woman runs a sewing shop. She’s paying rent in the building. Probably utilities too (unless they’re covered in her lease agreement). Doesn’t it follow that she’d want to be compensated for her work?

Apparently not, because she left me and went back upstairs. I called up and thanked her again, and she made some sound in response before leaving.

And that’s the tale of how I got my favorite pants repaired at no cost to me. Every time I wear those suckers, I think of Mrs. Dayko and her magical, free sewing work. Was she even real at all…?