The cashier of a local dry cleaning business has said he believes he knows who is truly behind the string of recent attacks on women's rights being waged by the GOP.
Even though he wishes to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisal, he was brave enough to express his suspicions to me, "Our regular hanger salesman, he used to be REAL pushy, you know? Kind of desperate for sales; sometimes even crying when I'd say we don't need no hangers."
The cashier told me that all changed once the GOP's War on Women began. "It was kind of suspicious. The hanger salesman hardly comes around now, and when he does, he acts like he don't care whether we buy his hangers or not. Oh, and he's driving a new Hyundai. Something is going on."
At that moment, he was cut off from his story as a customer came in. I watched him with her, the way he handled her grape juice-stained slacks and her dog hair-covered guest room comforter. I thought about how his story was hard to buy; salesmen are always desperate. The customer dropped a nickel on her way out and he called her back to let her know, instead of keeping it for himself. ... I believed him.
My next stop was the headquarters of the American Wire Hanger Lobby (AWHL) to confront their President, Harmon Peepel. I expected resistance to meeting with me, denial of the charges levied against them, but Mr. Peepel was happy to tell me all about what he describes as a "recent windfall."
"We made a killing in the 60's! No environmental regulations on dry cleaners, all that 'free love', restrictions on birth control and no legal abortion... We were living the high life. But, the Roe vs. Wade decision hit our industry pretty hard. The Clean Air Act and the legalization of birth control for all citizens didn't help the situation but, then, the real kicker. The thing that nearly brought our entire industry to its knees... The 1981 release of 'Mommy Dearest'. Our biggest competitors, the Padded-Satin Hanger Lobby (PSHL) jumped on that bandwagon and waved that "no wire hangers" scene all over the media. We've been struggling ever since."
He gets up and pours himself a scotch from the cherry wood bar in the corner of the room. He doesn't offer me anything. I wait. Harmon Peepel stares out of the 15th floor window. Without looking at me, he tells me all about his grand plan to increase sales of wire hangers by funding the GOP to reduce abortion rights and make it more difficult for women to get or afford birth control, thus forcing more private sales of wire hangers. He tells me sales haven't been this good since 1972 and things are looking up; after all, several more states are working on passing legislation designed to directly increase the sales of wire hangers to women.
I asked him if he feels any remorse for attacking women to increase sales. He tells me, "Hey! This is about the free market. We're an industry of tens of people. I have a responsibility to them and their families."