In 1964 after completing my freshman year my dad informed me I was going to work at the family owned business—Cleaver Carpet Center. I said, “But I planned on playing baseball, going to the pool and being 15. Instead, I got to ride my bike to work at 6:30 in the morning, prepare the previously washed area rugs for delivery, and head out to return them, picking up another 12-15, cleaning homes with wall-to-wall carpet, scrubbing the haul from the day, and figuring out how to survive the 100’ Pueblo summers. I often worked 55 hours a week for $1.15 an hour. I got an awakening of how people live. The good, the bad, the… !!! The good news is that I made a lot of money, which allowed me to buy a car. I did this four years in a row and my learning curve went far ahead of most of my peers.
I picked up Justin at 5:30am, at Regis University. He hopped in and we began a vulnerable interchange. I asked him what he did all night at Regis. “I clean floors – wax and strip, carpets, hardwoods, and whatever else. I moved here to take care of my mom”. “Is she sick”? “She is mentally ill. Nobody in the family wants her, it’s either me or the streets”. We began a very honest interchange about bi-polar, Schizophrenia, addictions and all the other challenges she faces. He was in no way resentful or a victim. We talked about cleaning floors, and how quickly feet make them dirty. “I really appreciate this job because I can do it at night when she stays in”.
He was very bright and I doubted that this is a career for him. “So what are your dreams”? “To get my mom to a place where she can be safe. Right now I am it. It’s ok, I read a lot, have a couple of great friends, and she is safe”.
The world could use a few more folks who quietly serve and clean up and take care of our messes.
Onward and Upward, Mark
1 thought on “Carpet Cleaner”
This story reminds me of my husband. I had surgery on my cervical spine on January 10, 2019. It totally drained me of all energy and left me with the inability to walk, so I was transferred to a nursing home. I received good care, good food, and wonderful visits from my husband, neighbors, and friends from church. TV and online Scrabble were my main forms of entertainment. About a month later, I was approved to go home to my husband and two cats, with numerous visits from out two daughters. He learned how to cook, how to care for me, drove me to my constant physician and physical therapy appointments, and watched nervously as I learned how to walk again. He is my hero!
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