Big bad machine

As I looked down the long hallway with apartment doors along both sides, a door at the very end of the hall opened. I was using the floor scrubbing machine (with red flashing lights) so I couldn’t hear what the two little kids were saying but clearly they were concerned about the machine I was using or me. As I got closer, the boy, about 5, left the safety of his apartment and walked toward me. With his head down, the floor was all he saw – he passed by me silently. His sister had gone inside and closed the door to their apartment.

When I got to the end of the hall I swung the machine around to make another pass and I saw the little boy knocking at another apartment door at the other end of the hall. I kept going and smiled as I watched him in case he made a dash in front of the machine. Instead, he squeezed his little body against the door of the apartment, but I had long before steered the machine as far away from him as I could, so as not to further scare him. I cheerfully said “good morning!”

He said loudly, “Thank you for not running me over.”

Kids are so darn cute. (Even though he very well might be the guilty party that ran a red crayon along the white wall, the length of the hall)


The job: 4 story downtown building with various offices and studios located across the street from our overflow homeless shelter. I clean the common hallways and stairs. Basement has been a hideaway for homeless people over the years, evidence: blankets, empty cans and bottles and food wrappers all piled up. I have run into people who have slept in a building all night, scary stuff.

After several months of finding (and reporting) the main door of this building open on Sunday mornings at 5am, I was so pleased to see that the owner had  posted this letter on all 4 floors and by the front door. Then last week I saw the penned in note, probably written by one of the self-proclaimed artists on the 4th floor.

not seen them letter cropped enlarged

Click to read

Just for the record, most cleaning people prefer to clean when a building is empty. Trying to vacuum and worry about someone tripping over 50 feet of extension cord is not an easy task. Neither is cleaning a bathroom with a line of people waiting to use it and dirty it up again. And when it comes to mopping, most people would understand why it’s way better to mop alone.

So my initial reaction to the person who penned that note on all copies except by the front door, is, I haven’t seen you either, thankfully. But I do see evidence of you – the pee all over the bathroom, the liquid soap dried to the sink, the entire cup of spilled coffee with a magazine in the middle, all of which is dried and stuck to the floor. I do see your muddy footprints leading from the street level up to the 4th floor because you didn’t take a moment to wipe your feet.

You are right, you HAVE NOT SEEN me – and after seeing that comment – let me assure you that you should be quite happy you have not run into me.

(Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post. Some tenants really do understand!)

More job security in the winter

Week after week, it’s always the same in the winter. Right outside this woman’s apartment is the dirtiest floor of all the apartment buildings (35+) I clean. She is the only person who keeps her clean boots on the boot mat and her dirty boots/shoes on the floor. Does she not care? think? know?dirty boots

pile of trash

pile of trash

I’ve always told my customers that if they have something to throw out, just stack it near the trash cans and I’ll take it out to be recycled or thrown out. Geesh! I guess it’s a good way to start my day…it certainly got my blood flowing!

sandbags are in place

Sandbags frozen solid in place until spring.

Sandbags are in place in the bed of my truck. In fact they are now solidly frozen in place for the winter.

broom 1

Unfortunately, so is my broom.

The Day Before Thanksgiving

I cleaned a boarding house the day before Thanksgiving. I’m usually careful when talking with tenants and don’t bring up the fact that a holiday is so near, and generally they don’t mention it either. It was no different the day before Thanksgiving. I saw only one of the tenants  that morning who was dropped off at the house, and told me he had been to his ‘quitting smoking’ class, but he was the only one there. He had told me previously that he had quit smoking for 4 weeks so far, he was very proud. So I asked him how he’s doing now with his smoking and he said he is “down to 5 cigarettes.” He shuffled out of the kitchen and to his room the door of which has a prominent “No Smoking/Oxygen in Use” sign.

Later that day I was in town but on my way back to the boarding house to leave some homemade cranberry bread for the tenants for Thanksgiving. I was surprised to see the live-in manager of the building downtown, strange coincidence. I asked him if he’d take the bread to the tenants and he said yes, and thanked me. He then told me that none of the tenants had mentioned anything about having Thanksgiving dinner the following day. I thought out loud, “that’s pretty sad, isn’t it? They’ll go to the Community Dinner, right?”

The manager said, “I don’t know if they will be hungry…Harry just told me he’s already had 3 full free Thanksgiving dinners this week.”

I guess we feed the needy quite well in our little town.

Day before Thanksgiving Thoughts

I’ve written about the overflow homeless shelter before, even posted an early morning photo of it. Here is another poor quality photo I took this morning, but it tells such a story.
I didn’t even notice all the lights surrounding the solitary window in the middle when I snapped this. The red and green lights to the right are coming from a large delivery truck, the driver is waiting for someone to show up so he can unload his truck and get on with his day. The bright lights on the left are coming from our main post office, they are beginning work to get deliveries out.
The people in the overflow shelter are also contemplating the start to their day, after sleeping in the church. They will walk out of the shelter at no later than 7 AM into the 35 degree pouring rain, and tomorrow is Thanksgiving for them too. Where will they go at 7:01 today?

The tiny rectangular window to the left of center is the overflow shelter.

The tiny rectangular window to the left of center is the overflow shelter.

I sit here writing this on my desktop computer, and my laptop on another desk. My wood stove is keeping me warm, my truck will get me to my next job, and with my phone I can be in contact with friends and family anytime I might be feeling lonely. After work today I will be begin preparing Thanksgiving dinner for my 2 sons who have traveled from other states to be home.
I’m somewhat relieved to find out from some low-income tenants that there are a number of free Thanksgiving Dinners in town, some of which the general public is unaware. What about the rest of the time?

It just doesn’t take much to be thankful for all we have, if we just keep our eyes and mind open.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving but don’t forget those who, for whatever reason, can’t be in a warm, dry place or with their loved ones day after day.

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