I have had the luxury of staying in Don and Jim’s motorhome, parked in the driveway of their Long Beach home. When good people treat me so generously, I want to repay the favour somehow. Therefore, when Don asked me if I could help him with a colossal carpet-cleaning job, I enthusiastically said yes!
I am no stranger to the vacuum. We’ve been introduced on several occasions. Some of my best friends are vacuums. However, I have never met the vacuum’s steroid-pumped older brother, the Big Suck 9000. My oh my, I thought that wrestling cattle at the rodeo was tough! This machine had its wicked way with me and there was little I could do but hold on for dear life. Things came to a natural end when the machine dragged me further than the length of the power cord. I guess all mighty adversaries have an Achilles heel.
After Don kindly showed me how to press the handle down or pull it up to make it go where I want it to go, things looked up for me as a carpet cleaner. The trick is to pick an area, about two metres wide, and run the machine left with both the water and the suction running at full power, then return over the same area with the water turned off, thereby sucking the moisture out of the carpet. (Yes, Scott, the carpet was moist.) Then you back up half a step and repeat. Once the monster accepted me and no longer tried to eat my left foot, the job was rather peaceful. I listened to my audio book and watched the grime disappear before my feet. It was almost meditative.
The problem was (as always?) the bathroom. Before I go on, who in their right mind puts carpet around their toilet? Wouldn’t you always wonder who among your friends is a good aim and who is going to leave lingering lashes of liquid in your carpet? That aside, I found cleaning the carpet around the toilet tiring and annoying. Big Suck couldn’t reach the small spaces around the toilet, so I had to unplug both the suction and the water hoses from Big Suck (and he does not go quietly into the night), plug in the hand held Little Suck, get down on my hands and knees and then clean the ill-placed carpet by hand.
Big Suck is powered by a small nuclear plant located in Don’s white van from which the suction and water hoses run. The job was, as mentioned, a big one – a real challenge to Big Suck’s authority. It was a 70’s mansion complete with a view of the sea, a (working) sauna, psychedelic colours, a self-playing piano and enough doors and staircases to resemble the mad architecture of an Escher painting. Running the hoses into the most remote area codes of the mansion was a challenge requiring shortcuts across the pool, over balconies and through windows.
I thoroughly enjoyed my day as a carpet cleaner. I did the job as a favour to a great friend, but I also gained a brand new experience.
Work is an important part of our identity. Perhaps I can turn my current unemployment into a positive thing by actively seeking out assorted jobs and through them explore new sides of myself. (I could use the extra money too!)
This is the birth of a new category of posts here at The Modern Nomad. The Work category will contain write-ups of the odd jobs I’ve tried. If you have suggestions for work that you think I could try whilst on the road, then contact me and let me know.
(This video demonstrates what happened when I first approached Big Suck. Watch until 2:16.)