It’s another morning, and Bateman has recently received back an order from the Chinese couple he sends his bloody laundry to for dry cleaning – the clothes, however, remain stained with blood. Furious, he makes the trip all the way uptown (he’s never been) to visit the dry cleaners in person. Bateman rushes out the door, skipping his workout and today’s episode of “The Patty Winters Show” – a re-run featuring the President. Outside the store, he sees a bum, blind and missing a foot, begging for money on the sidewalk. Bateman steps on his “foot,” causing him to cry out and drop his cup of change.
Bateman is reluctant to go all the way uptown to see the elderly Chinese couple who take care of his bloody laundry; he likely assumes that, because these people are so far below him, there’s no reason for him to worry about sending them bloody linens so often. He also cares very little about the bum outside. It is interesting to note, however, the guest on the day’s episode of “The Patty Winters Show.” It’s highly unlikely that the President of the United States would be a guest on a show like this; this could be a sign that Bateman is either being dishonest or partly hallucinating the morning’s events.
Inside the dry cleaners’, Bateman is having an incredibly difficult time communicating his disappointment. He mocks the old woman, who clearly is not a very good English-speaker, while her husband looks on, equally dumbfounded. Bateman is irate – the suit and sheets he’s brought back are incredibly expensive and cannot simply be bleached. Getting nowhere, he continues to berate the old couple, who are clearly uncomfortable with the entire interaction. Bateman is relentless, screaming at the old woman and mocking her, telling her that he has an important appointment that he has to get to, and shouting and laughing over her as she tries to communicate with him and becomes more and more upset.
Again we see Bateman having a racist and uncaring attitude towards people he views as below him. Because these people are not of his level of society, he is cruel to them, and because they are not native English speakers and have jobs other than Wall Street banking, he assumes they are stupid and worthless. His expensive linens are more important to him than these two other human beings.
Suddenly, the bell on the door rings, and a voice says, “Patrick?” It’s a woman Bateman recognizes from his building – she’s a bit older than him and not in shape. She greets him excitedly, clearly knowing exactly who he is, though he only has a vague knowledge of her. There is an awkward moment when he tries to explain what the stains on his clothes are… cranberry juice, chocolate… Bateman quickly asks Samantha (“Victoria,” she corrects him) to sort things out with the dry cleaners. As he rushes out the door, she asks if he’d like to get lunch some time. After telling her he’s busy on the few dates she proposes (once because he has tickets to “Les Misérables”), he just tells her he’ll call and leaves quickly.
This is another instance in which Bateman fixates predominantly on a woman’s appearance and on her perceived interest in him sexually. For a moment, he is caught; he has bloodstains on his linens, something not only difficult to explain but a crack in the perfect image he is always trying to project. He doesn’t know what to do, and so exits the situation as quickly as he can. Note also another example of mistaken identity (and blatant objectification of women) as Bateman addresses the woman by the wrong name. Ellis’ evoking “Les Misérables” in this particular moment is telling; by mentioning the musical, he brings out the class distinctions at play in the scene between Bateman and his dry cleaners. Their fighting back with him could almost be read as their own, small revolution.
Outside, Bateman spots a young homeless woman. He’s struck by her; she’s pretty. He reaches into his pocket and fishes out a dollar, dropping it into the cup she’s holding in front of her. The girl looks up at him angrily, and he sees the dollar floating in a cup of coffee. “What’s your goddamn problem?” the girl – evidently not homeless – shouts at him. Bateman, dazed, rushes into a cab and heads to his lunch appointment.
This is one of the few instances in the novel where Bateman treats a homeless person with anything other than outright cruelty. Of course, it is also the time he mistakes someone else for a homeless person – these happenings of mistaken identity don’t just occur within Bateman’s Wall Street social circle.