Carpet Cleaning

26 October 2011. Filed under category Personal.
Me cleaning carpets.

Me cleaning carpets.

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.

'Relativity' by Escher.

'Relativity' by Escher.

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.)

Achilles Heel

Achilles is one of the great heroes from Greek mythology. His mother dipped him in river Styx, making Achilles immortal everywhere except the heel where his mother held him.


M.C. Escher is an artist famous for making optical illusions, infinity paintings and the mind-twisting rooms where each part makes sense but the whole is impossible to create.


What is the oddest job you’ve ever had?

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  1. Steve Gren says:

    I was a department store Santa Claus one Christmas. You would be absolutely amazed by what kids said even way back 30 years ago.

  2. Craig Brown says:

    Well, the oddest EXPERIENCE I’ve had at my job as a flight attendant was with the young man who removed his clothes in the bathroom, took down the ceiling panel (way pre 9/11) and climbed up into the ceiling to peak into the bathroom on the other side of the aisle. He was enjoying himself when I unlocked the door (yes, we can do this). P.S. Excellent subject addition to your blog. And where did you find that video ?!!! LOL

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      That is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever heard of. Oh, and as an avid Tim Burton fan, I of course know of his odd Stain Boy videos.

  3. I think you should work on finding an agent & publisher for a book of your blog posts. You have a funny, unique voice! While you’re paying the bills, think about this, a favorite quote of my son, Blake:

    “If you are called to be a street sweeper, sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Shakespeare wrote poetry, or Beethoven composed music. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      I am in the hunt of a publisher, but not for my blog. (Maybe one day, but too early now.) I have a novel on ice which I intent to defrost any month now. It has a totally different voice though, being about the end of the world and everything.

  4. MB says:

    I look forward to your blogs. I haven’t had odd jobs, but I look forward to them. You have inspired me to try a nomadic lifestyle as well. Unfortunately my jobs have been dull office jobs. I thought you were doing computer work on the side?

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      Ooooh! My first convert! I do hope you won’t end up dead at a river bank as I would feel ever so guilty.

      I intend to do computer work on the side (I haven’t started yet; I’ve been a very lazy boy.), but even with that as an overarching career, I’d still like to play with other small jobs, if only for a day or a week. The more we do, the more we learn. The more varied stuff we do, the more varied lessons we learn.

  5. Hogarth says:

    Well, well, well. Great to learn that you have put all that suction to good use! Gustav cleaning carpets, a revaluation, whatever next? Keep up the good work! With agents start looking now, and choose those that specialise in your preferred genre of writing? Publishing is still an unpredictable world, start early and be very patient, as you know from my own experience these things take time! Good luck! 🙂

  6. Geiser says:

    I adore your blogs and wait for them like for a familiar magazine. Please go ahead and keep the world informed.

    Thankyou very much Gustav

    Best regards Gei

  7. Lori says:

    Question. The part about “ending up dead at a river bank.” Don’t you mean “bleeding in a ditch with raccoons eating your eyeballs”? Anyway, that’s how I’ve always thought the Unfortunate Demise scenario went. Maybe that’s just an American demise. I wouldn’t know, I’ve only ever lived here.
    To answer YOUR question: the oddest job I’ve ever had was tooth cleaning. And no, I’m not talking about teeth cleaning (aka dental hygiene), rather, TOOTH cleaning. I had a patient with a single tooth. You’d think if you had just the one tooth you might consider visiting an oral surgeon to get the pesky thing out of there, not pay a dental hygienist to clean “it.”

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      One tooth? Must be practical when flossing. I always get stuck.

  8. Scott says:

    OMG ::shudders::

What is the oddest job you’ve ever had?

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