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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.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Add Insult to Injury

Our phones are too quiet at work and everyone is a bit tense about it. If history repeats itself, they should start to jangle about Friday this week, or perhaps tomorrow, the oddly placed Veterans Day holiday when we are open while most people have the day off. And if history repeats itself, even in the recession we're supposed to believe is nearly over, we will roar until about February. It is the time of year that home dudes work many hours a day, every day, and take home fat paychecks. Tempers can flare from the pressure of the pace, but it's better than the quiet times. Quiet means no money in our world.

This morning before our sales huddle, Justin approached me. One of the things I like about him is that he just says things. If it's in his head, it comes out of his mouth. He's both straightforward and forthcoming. "Limes, can I get a $20 loan until payday? I ain't gonna lie. I don't have lunch money. I have to eat." I produced the $20 bill and we proceeded with our discussion of the day's jobs, what I'd perceived about the customers, and the potential for earning.

Home dudes were pretty gleeful about the Smith job. Miles of carpet to be cleaned, pet urine throughout (We're experts at urine eradication and it is a good producer of revenue. Yes, it takes specialized treatment to get urine out of carpet. Basic steam cleaning won't do it.), tile and grout to be cleaned, an SUV to be cleaned . . . this surely would be the job of the day. Cesar and Justin together are my most solid team. I sent them off to dazzle the customer and deliver the goods.

I watch the guys on GPS throughout the day. Not glued to the monitor, but I glance fairly often. I know some stoplights in the city take 6 minutes to change. I can tell if the technicians are pulling up on their next job or if they're driving in circles looking for it. "Home dude, you need some direction?" Last December on a snowy day, Justin radioed in distress, "Limes, I don't like this driving in the snow. I don't know exactly where I am. Can you pick me up on GPS?" "Justin, make the first U-turn you can. You're headed into Red Rock Canyon and the snow is going to get worse almost immediately. You're going dead opposite of the way you need to!" So this morning, I saw Cesar and Justin pulling up to the Smith home.

It took the typical 20 minutes or so to hear from them. They always go in, meet with the customer, inspect the areas to be cleaned, give a firm quote and call the job in to me. It was Cesar on the radio. I probably read him the best of all home dudes. As soon as he said "Limes", I knew things were not going well. With disgust in his voice, Cesar told me another carpet cleaning company had been at the residence yesterday. It's never good for us to have an appointment on the books and learn someone beat us out by a day. "Limes, this carpet is disgusting. They've overwet it so badly it's squishing when we walk on it. You can see all kinds of spots and stains still on it. It reeks of pee. Obviously, they didn't do anything about the pet urine except reactivate it when they overwet the carpet." Cesar is good at what he does. He explained to the customer that he and Justin could clean the carpet properly and get the urine odor to go away. "Nah!" said Mr. Smith who already paid someone yesterday to clean his carpet and isn't going to pay someone else today to do the same thing. Cesar, however, did get the tile and grout and the SUV.

I took down the amount of the job and how long it would take to complete. My BlackBerry sounded again. I looked at the screen and said, "What's up Cesar?" I could hear Cesar chuckling and Justin raising hell in the background. Little in my work world distresses me as much as hearing raucous discourse on the radio coming from one of my technicians. Too many times it has been a panic call or an SOS, and I don't care much for those. More than once, a home dude has rubbed a customer the wrong way and he's called in to ask me how to handle it. Once a customer refused to pay for services and I had to dispatch Metro. It's against the law to contract for services and then refuse to pay.

"What's going on, Cesar?" "Limes, these people have seven kids. Well, seven different ones that I counted." "Yes, and . . . ?" "On the way to the job, Justin bought a Fiesta Pack of tacos so we could eat. He didn't finish his by the time we pulled up here. While we were pulling our hoses one of the kids went into the van and ate Justin's tacos." Yow. He borrowed money to buy those tacos the Smith kid ate.

In my ears right now: Justin, calling in the completion of the job. "Limes, I have a check here in the amount of . . . ". The Smiths gave a very generous tip. "Well, Justin, that should pay for the tacos, right?" "Limes, I can't eat the tip I won't actually get until next payday. I was hungry!"

Something that charmed me: Justin was laughing by the time the job was completed and he radioed in. We have an odd little work world. We all get terribly beaten up by those strange creatures - the general public. Each one of us tends to go off once in awhile when it has just simply been too much. But mostly, we step up, withstand the assaults, tell the stories and laugh like hell.


  1. What you have there Limes is the essence of sport. Teamwork, everone knowing their job, watching each others back and may be taking up the slack once in a while. Its all about taking the ball to the hoop.

  2. Oh, I cannot WAIT to show David your comment! All the homes are into sports, but none more than David. Also, no one has more vested interest in our being a team than David. We really ARE, too. I am so fortunate to have flown into this nest of cuckoos. I am so proud of us. We really are that "larger than the sum of all the parts" thing going on. I may be 5' nothing, but I get it about taking the ball to the hoop, because sometimes I am the carrier of that ball.