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