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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Carpet Cleaner Humor

The technicians are required to keep in close contact with Mission Control. They have many freedoms out in the world and the balance is that we watch them move through the valley on GPS at all times. They must call in from every job at its beginning, tell us the value of the job and then report payment at the end. No exceptions.

When the company was young, we simply communicated by telephone. Everyone had a cell phone to call in on. But some of the home dudes didn't pay their bill, or had a plan that gave them too few minutes, or forgot their phone 3 days a week . . . OK, the company purchased walkie-talkies and required everyone to carry them. Every one of the men caught onto the walkie-talkie thing immediately. I was dumber than a box of rocks. They'd played army in their youth, I hadn't. I didn't like this device. For whatever reason, we used "handles" in the day and the technicians all took rodent-themed monikers. I named myself Dumb Bunny. I like to think none of them would have come up with that.
Then came the BlackBerries and it was miraculous ~ I was a whiz and they were a bit slower. David said, "Well, yeah, it's basically a computer and you're good at that." So the guys helped me with ringtones and I taught them what an Excel spreadsheet was. They showed me the navigation system and I showed them how to e-mail the digital video clips they take with their BlackBerries. It's reciprocal. It's nice. If you teach me this, I'll teach you that.

Rolling around in Las Vegas every day must be surreal. It is an odd place. It is peopled by the best and the worst sorts. We deal with them all. My technicians see things in homes that are enviable, disgusting, lovely, laughable. Once I had a home dude come off of his route, describe something he'd seen and ask me if I thought he should call Child Protective Services. They are offered everything from cold drinks to food, from handshakes to threats to throw them bodily off the property. They are flirted with and propositioned, insulted or asked if they can help a customer out because of hard times. Many radio transmissions include a comment or conversation about the amazing thing they've just seen or the odd situation that just occurred.

They are offered household items frequently. "Hey, Limes, would anybody want a black leather recliner?" "Have you heard of anyone who might want a kitten?" When we clean carpets for move-out, we often arrive at a point where the customer is willing to simply walk away and leave things behind. And traversing the city as they do, these guys see every yard sale there is.

Cesar and Matt finished a job and walked across the street to a yard sale. There Matt, 22, saw an item that so fascinated him, the seller said, "Take it for free, young man, and enjoy it." Returning to the van, Cesar employed his BlackBerry to send me a photo by e-mail, but didn't say a word to me. What I received at my desk:

As everyone else received the photo by e-mail, the radios began to buzz and we all became raucous. Soon I was informed that Matt had named him Pedro and Pedro was on the way in to the office. By the end of the day, I could see technicians shooting up the stairs - their workdays were over and they wanted to meet Pedro. We laughed until we nearly squirted milk out of our noses. A suggestion was made that we mount Pedro out on the barn that Troy built.

Here's Cesar posing Pedro on the barn:

We all cackled for days and visitors to our office were a bit startled at the sight of Pedro resting in a chair near my desk. We began to talk about how we knew we couldn't really put him out on the barn because the elements would quickly destroy him. So finally, Pedro was put inside the barn to lead a dark existence. He continues to startle everyone who goes to the barn for supplies or equipment - he's a pretty big boy and looks menacing in the dark.

My own private source of merriment: Matt is a young man with a brilliant mind. He's a good worker and a great salesman. He's an astounding artist. He is spiritual and both David and I have had many long, deeply philosophical discussions with him. But sometimes something will pop up - things he doesn't know about - that make one just go "What??" I attribute it to his extreme youth. So . . . Matt thought Pedro was a barnyard piggie and had to check in with me to see if the other guys were giving him the business about an animal called a boar. "No, Matt, it's true. Pedro is a boar. Barnyard piggies are pink and smell like baby powder. "

In my ears right now: the sweet warbling of my two birds and the Badger's pair of birds. Sometimes they just squawk. Right now they're lovely.

Something that charmed me today: the Badger's great placement in the race this morning; the strength and confidence he showed going into this race and coming out of it.

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