Our Town: WP cleaners living American dream

Dr Tom Ferraro

Every time I enter the Sharon Pembroke Cleaners I am certain that I will be received with genuine kindness and a smile. In fact I do not get nearly the same kind of gracious respect at my golf club and I spend a fortune at the place. David and Sharon Kim are the proud owners of  Sharon Pembroke Cleaners . I like them so much that when I go on vacations I always remember to send them a post card. 

As I interviewed David I learned that he and his wife moved to America from Seoul, Korea back in 1993 and he has owned Sharon Pembroke Cleaners for 7 years. He has three kids and lives in Bayside Queens.  His oldest child, Rachel, goes to Bronx Science which is filled with science prodigies. 

I asked David to compare South Korea with America. He told me that Seoul was very overcrowded and that nowadays if executives do not rise to a high enough rank by age fifty they are expected to retire.  He attended Kunkook University when in Seoul and obtained his Bachelors in microbiological engineering. When I asked him to contrast life in Korea with life in America he said “ I like America. Some people say there is no more American Dream but I think there is. This is a blessed country.” So here we have a Korean American family in quest of the American Dream with hope and a smile. Of course his view is relative. At this point hundreds of articles and books have been written about who killed the American Dream. The growing disparity between the 1 %ers and the rest continues to rise.  Graduates who get out of college with as much as  $100,000 in debt face an economy that will offer them jobs as pizza delivery guys. Many now understand how this process unfolded since the mid 1970’s.  It has resulted in an America which is overworked, highly stresses and angry. Most Americans now see that a chance for a comfortable life working reasonable hours and having time for leisure and full one month vacations is now a myth. The fascinating and very controversial Cadillac commercial played of this painful fact of life and they are now dealing with the backlash. 

But the American nightmare reality is not the reality of the Kim family. Not at all. Maybe because their multigenerational  families stick together, maybe because they have tasted poverty in the past,  maybe they work very hard and tend to spend less than we do. The behavioral economist and Nobel laureate Robert Shiller of Yale University explains things that way. 

So we have a paradox. The Kim’s are in fact living the American Dream and feeling good about it. It would not otherwise be possible for both of them to display such kindness and sweetness and goodness. This says to me that we have something to learn from them.  So if you’re looking for a cleaners to get your clothes done well and quickly or if you are looking to feel good about extraordinary personal service or even to discuss the American Dream in a place where it is alive and quite well, start doing your clothes at Sharon Pembroke Cleaners. And tell them I said thanks to them for being such decent human beings. 

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