About Me

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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.

Friday, June 5, 2009

My Guys - The Home Dudes

In my work, I am surrounded by males. I'm the only hen in the barnyard. This was not comfortable for me for a very long period, because I had never quite figured the species out. No brother. My father, husband and the love of my life were not good study subjects - they were too close to me to be objectively observed. It was a difficult learning process, but I believe I've caught on. I like this configuration. I've got the best seat in the house.

David is an entrepreneur. He had made a good deal of money in some of his endeavors and decided to open an additional small business he knew something about - carpet cleaning. He is a man who will only do things first class, and his new business was no different. All new everything, the best everything. From technology to service vehicles, from products to staff, it has to be the best. That's how he rolls.

I came along 3 months after the business opened and his office manager was about to move. His ad was not what typically would have drawn a response from me, but he was the only human being I reached that day. All other potential offers required me to e-mail, fax or speak to voicemail. I wanted to connect with a living being. I went to see him that afternoon. He said he would let me know within a few days. He called me an hour later and said to start working the next day. I knew nothing about carpet cleaning, small business, scheduling and dispatching, creating websites or any of the things I do today. He selected me for my broader experience and allowed me to learn the details. He's a good mentor. I'm a good learner.

It's been like that for us. We are both rather difficult and extreme people. We are polar opposites on the surface - our separate experiences and journey - but at the core we are twin brothers from different mothers. We work alike. We think alike. We emote similarly. He has put his million dollar baby business in my hands to manage and he steps away and lets me do so. More recently, on the occasions when I ask him to ring in on something, his answer is usually, "I want you to do what you think is right." It's heady stuff. I've never run a business. I've never even worked for a face, a person. I've worked for corporations and labor unions and places run by boards of directors. More will be written about my work, no doubt, but this post was meant to be about the home dudes.

Carpet cleaning technicians are just like any other box of chocolates and we've been through a lot of them. We've had those who embezzled us and stole our money as well as our innocence. We've had old ones, drama kings, misogynists, hell raisers, ladies men, functioning illiterates, marginal nice folks and some really fine citizens. When the recession slammed us unexpectedly 9 months ago, the last remaining difficult ones managed to pretty quickly fire themselves, to the relief of all of us who were left standing. And now we're a smaller, but mighty band of warriors made stronger by being the ones who stayed in, tightened our belts, committed to stay for the ride. And now we're resurfacing!

We developed a mantra some months ago, those of us who are the stayers. "Just keep doing it as right as we can do it. Under-promise and over-deliver. Be as good as we are - on every job." David adjusted budgets and cut expenses, began to pay some expenses personally and communicated openly with everyone. Soon we were managing a small profit. I became a statistician and learned to predict when we'd have more work - and my predictions are pretty dead on. I stopped going off at impossible people on the phone - I can't sacrifice one job to my sharp tongue. Our technicians became kinder to seniors and war veterans, single moms and assorted pathetics, just to keep every job on the books. They became less willing to leave a job that was going south because it would affect all of us.

We're a snapshot of an American phenom: a small business that held on despite some really dark days. We all adjusted how we do things. We kept communicating. We developed a foundation built on mutual trust and it feels powerful. We've truly become worth more than the sum of all our components. You're going to hear much about my home dudes!

In my ears right now: Lucinda Williams, "Over Time"

Why I like it/her: She's a real tough girl. Tough enough to show us that she could also easily bleed to death from emotional pain.

Something that charmed me today: The Badger's dawn e-mails: the weather conditions, his breakfast, his layers of cycling clothes. He is strong and confident going into this race. The gun went off 7 minutes ago. He's riding now and for another 1 1/2 hours or so. I wonder if the turns in those descents will still be muddy or dry and loose.


  1. They were muddy, wet, and it rained. I thought, it's better than racing in Europe!

  2. I'd like you to know that around 9:00, the radios were buzzing - all my guys wanted to know if we'd heard from Bakersfield. At 11:00, I did an "all call" - they all got to hear about your 4th place and your $25 at the same moment. They all thought the ringer thing was pretty treacherous and thought that some home dudes might be able to give you some devilish suggestions.

  3. Sounds like a great place to be and a great bunch to be around!

  4. A ringer is one who no one knows, but is way better than anyone would have guessed brought for the sole purpose of helping Kenny win his race without any interference!

    I'd do it if I could! Why not? Better simply to have a good team to support you. Kenny has no one else from his team in his age group so he has to look for allies. He's pretty much used up everyone in the 60+ group, and has alienated more than a few in the 50/55+ groups, too. So he's going further afield.

  5. @OB: I'm in no way a religious person, but I say this about my work life - "I am blessed. I'm right where I am supposed to be right now."

    @Badger: I'm sorry to say it, but Justin and I have landed on the cartoon character we think Kenny resembles in appearance and behavior. Do you remember Sluggo from the comic books?

  6. Lime, what a great post. I can see why the business is succeeding.

  7. He's still the best in the world at what he does.

  8. But arrogant and conniving. Not pure. Not admirable or respectable.