It’s Ironic!

Ironing is not my forte. The Mothership had us ironing our own clothes from the age of eleven, and I used to dread Sunday afternoons when she’d plonk the basket of clothes at my door and bark, “Time to do your ironing!”

“Yeah, in a minute.”


It was worse in the middle of summer. The clothes would inevitably have been baking in the sun on the clothesline until they were so hard you could knock yourself out with a sock. Plus the folks were too tight-arsed to turn on the airconditioning, so the steam from the iron made me wilt.

I devised a few shortcuts. First I tried not wearing as many clothes, so I wouldn’t have as much stuff to iron. Alas I was such a messy child (still am) and couldn’t get through a meal without spilling half of it over myself, so I was constantly changing. There was a breakthrough in winter when occured to me that I didn’t really need to iron my entire school shirt, because only the collar would be visible once I put on the school jumper. 

I got away with this for a month or two until one day Mum opened my wardrobe and saw an un-ironed shirt sleeve hanging up there and promptly lectured me for an hour on the perils of laziness. So after that I made sure I ironed that one sleeve, so if if you opened the wardrobe it totally looked like an ironed shirt.

Jump to a few years later and I was at university, where everything you wear is Slob Gear™ and is pretty much wash and fold. Or wash and throw on the floor. Or not wash at all and just pick up from the floor, sniff the armpits and wear. Anyway, I was poor and in need of a job. I hadn’t managed to find one and Mum was getting impatient. Then she found out that a friend of a friend was opening a business in town and needed a junior staffer. I dutifully trotted down there with my resume and was grilled about my work experience and HSC results. Then they asked me, “Can you iron?”


“Yes, it’s an ironing business. Didn’t your mother tell you?”

It was called It’s Ironic!. You know, deeply ironic in that Alanis Morissette kind of way. And how deeply ironic that the world’s worst ironing chick was employed there.

I had the 8.30 shift, which was the arse crack of dawn to a slovenly uni student. I worked solo, and had to open up the shop, fire up the nasty big industrial strength irons, take any new orders and do a bit of ironing. I used to sort through the baskets and pick the easiest one. Ideally you wanted the basketful of oil-stained overalls from the garage across the street, because they were so crappy that you couldn’t really do any harm to them. Also good was a basketful of cheapo chain store cottony stuff, washed so often that there was only a whisp of colour left. Baby clothes were also good. Very small. Or a basketful of hankerchiefs and teatowels. When an old lady walked through the door I would whoop for joy inside, because there’d be a high proportion of easy iron hankies, doilies and tea towels, plus if she was old and blind enough she wouldn’t notice the shoddy job I did of her frocks.

Worst of all was a basketful of designer gear, delicate fabrics and complicated creases. I tried to be a good ironer, really I did. I made sure I used the right setting so not to scorch the fabrics. I used starch when the client demanded it and made the creases sharp enough to amputate a limb. As a result I was a slow, slow ironer.

It all came undone one Wednesday morn. There was only one new basket to do and it was all designer stuff. And white. I tried to avoid it as long as possible, I cleaned the shop windows, vacuumed, and removed all the fluff from the bottom of the irons. Once I’d arranged all the bank notes in the till so the faces were all up the same way there was no avoiding the actual ironing.

I did okay until I got to the white jeans. That was when the iron decided to vomit murky brown water all down the right leg. My heart flipped. I poked at the stain with my finger. It wasn’t going to budge. I thought of The Mothership’s Handy Stain Removal Tips and couldn’t remember a single one. I considered trying to wash it under the sink, but remembered that laundry wasn’t one of my strengths either.

I looked at the label (size 8) and recognized it from one of the local fancy schmancy shops, and frantically calculated how much money I had in my paltry student bank account, or how many hours ironing I’d have to do to pay for the new pair, and whether I could close up the shop, run up the street to the fancy boutique, buy the jeans and race back, stealthily switch soiled jeans with the new pair, all before the boss got in. But! Panic! Would they still have those jeans? Were the last seasons stock? Would someone break into the shop while I was away and steal my perfectly faced notes and a giant ironing board? And who the fuck wears white jeans anyway?

I was thumbing through the Yellow Pages and just about to burst into tears when the boss arrived.

“Why are you so pale? Are you ill?”

“The jeans! I’ve killed the jeans!”


“They’re ruined!”

“Let me see.”


“That will come out with a bit of water, the iron does it all the time.”

“It does?”



After that the quality of my ironing degenerated with each shift, my heart wasn’t in it. The customers started complaining and soon I was only trusted to hankies and tea towels. Finally I found a new job at a coffee shop and I told my boss sadly that I was going to leave. She smiled a faint smile that was not at all ironic.

In the new job I discovered that making coffee was something to add to my Not My Forte list.

“You’re afraid of the milk,” said Joe, my boss. “Don’t fight the froth!”

And don’t ever let a non-coffee drinker make your coffee, either.

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for August 2020.

29 thoughts on “It’s Ironic!

  1. Cool! First comment!

    I still never iron stuff. Most of my clothes you don’t need to iron, and the rest you just stick in the dryer for a few mins and they come out nice and crease free. Besides, even the most creased up pants will flatten out if you wear em for half an hour.

  2. Mattay is the ironing god. (I only say this so he’ll continue to iron and I won’t have to, beause I, like you, Miss Shauny, hate and suck at ironing.) He really is quite good at it.

  3. Mattay is the ironing god. (I only say this so he’ll continue to iron and I won’t have to, beause I, like you, Miss Shauny, hate and suck at ironing.) He really is quite good at it.

  4. I don’t iron. But I am thinking of buying one anyway, cause you need it when you put together handsewn thingys.

    “Don’t fight the froth!” Hahahah!

  5. Yurgh. (I’m going around posting that word on everyone’s guestbook. I like that word.) (Well not everyone’s. That would be impossible.) So, I’m glad at least three people in the world know what the real meaning of the word “ironic” is. Huzzah!

  6. why is it most girls i know hate ironing but the blokes don’t mind it so much? i don’t like to iron either, it takes me aaaages.

  7. By the same token, never let a person who loves to read work at a library unless they are the actual librarian.

    I made that mistake and ended up spending most of my time reading when I should have been shelving books.

    Also, where’s my “Yurgh”?

  8. Gee, I’d forgot you called that boss “Greasy Joe”.

    I don’t bother with ironing. Not unless it’s for a special occasion, like a wedding.

    Sometimes, though, my mother will try to persuade me to let her iron something of mine. She knows better than to try to persuade me to iron things myself. Not because I’m crap at it (though I’m no expert), but because I generally don’t see the point of ironing. If we all wore crinkled clothes as a matter of course…

  9. Ironing is the work of the devil; I’ve had an iron for the best part of 6 years and it is still in pristeen condition. Funny that!

  10. Too brilliant! ¶ We, too, know of the do-the-one-sleeve trick whenever inspection is coming up… but even we wouldn’t get chewed out half an hour for a shoddily ironed shirt. Good job your mom’s not running any recruit courses. 😀

  11. Messy eater? Do what I do? Eat naked!
    (Although I am running of our restaurants that I’m not banned from)

  12. Last year, at age 24, my grandmother gave me official lessons on ironing. My grandmother did ironing for a living for 10 years before getting married. She showed me a lot of tricks, I thought I was doing really very well. Then she looks at me, shakes her head, and says, “Tsk! You’ll never be a professional…

  13. TC: Yurgh!

    Shauny: I haven’t the foggiest. I think it’s more of an exclamation of disgust or amusement. I know not which, but I’m full of ’em. Or something. Full of something. Yes.

  14. Ironing is a problem in our house. Seeing as my brother seemingly has three times as much ironing as the rest of us. Yet, won’t iron it.

    Being the student I am, I too have taken to the Sniff-Armpit-And-Wear method. If it doesn’t stink, it can be worn. Nobody’ll ever know.

  15. I just got back from an ironing job. The woman wanted her bedsheets and pajamas ironed. (?!) Another thing that perplexed me was that all her pants were size 12 (american sizing) in stretch fabrics, but looking at her, I knew she’s more like a 14 or 16. Why bother paying someone to iron when her butt’s gonna spread out the creases anyways?

    To get this job, I made it sound like I loved ironing, when in fact, I too bought an iron 6 years ago that I never took out of package. I figured with repetition, I’d catch on and become efficient soon enough. But she was pissed about how little I was getting done and made it clear that she thought I had misled her as she practically booted me out the door. Funny thing is, as I was leaving, what really bugged me was not that she thought I was too slow at ironing (which I already knew I was), but that she thought I was slow because I was watching TV while doing it. I just turned it on for background noise. I couldn’t even tell you what the plot was about.

    Refraining from buying clothes that need ironing isn’t just a student thing, it’s a *smart* thing. Think of all the electricity and people-power wasted on ironing.

  16. god, you’re funny – “don’t fight the froth!”.

    Darling, let’s face it: you weren’t born to work.

    Like me, you were swapped at birth and somewhere out there someone is enjoying your rightful heritage of a poolside, bebutlered existence.

    She’s drinking *your* pisco sours and spending *your* inheritance with reckless abandon on useless fripperies.

    And why wouldn’t she.

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