I applied to work as a carpet cleaner in jest.
My previous experience was in retail, sales, and banking, so when my family and I were moving to West Michigan, I applied for those kinds of jobs. After the move, weeks went by, and I had yet to find gainful employment. When my wife came home from work one day, asking about my job hunt, I told her I had sent out sixteen tons of job applications and resumes.
“Why, I even submitted a resume to a carpet cleaning company!” I told her.
“Carpet cleaning…?” she asked, puzzled. “Yeah, right!”
Working such a physical job seemed so far out and unlikely for me, so opposite from my previous work history and lifestyle, we had a good laugh over it. Soon after, I was hired as a temp doing data entry, but it didn’t work out. I got hired in a call center next, but that didn’t work out either. Panic set in.
Then, a miracle: five call-backs on my sent resumes led to five job interviews which led to five job offers. Whoa! Now I could choose my career path from a diverse and impressive pool of options. Two of these jobs were in offices, two were in stores. Three of the four offers came from big national companies; great brands with great products.
The fifth job offer was from Randy’s Carpet Care. They said I could ride along with a tech for a week, see what I thought of the work, decide if it was the right fit for me; no pressure. I had already accepted one of the office jobs I had been offered, but training didn’t start for a month, so I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to try out carpet cleaning. I really liked the folks that I had interviewed with at Randy’s, and unlike the other companies, this one was a family owned business with an amazing local reputation. Awards lined the walls, and some of the employees had more than a decade invested in the company. I dug that.
“Sure, why not,” I thought. “Adventure!”
The guy I hitched a ride along with was Mike, the senior-most technician at Randy’s. From chemical reactions to the properties of stains to super-hero movies, this guy knew his stuff. A week went by, and not only was I intrigued by the science and art of the job, I was having fun! I was witnessing the beauty of West Michigan while driving between jobs, learning new skills, and meeting fascinating new people everyday.
Of course, it wasn’t all roses and sunshine. Cleaning carpets can be hard work, and the hours can be long. I was out of shape, and the job was physically demanding, not to mention that it could sometimes get dirty. Some days were better than others, but before I knew it, my week long ride-along had extended to two weeks and then three. The time to begin training for my office job was nigh. I had to make a decision, and office work was cozy, comfortable, and familiar to me.
Cleaning, however, is an important service to our fellow humans. See, for some folks, carpet and upholstery cleaning is a luxury, but for others, folks who are sick or in over their heads with a disaster or emergency like a flood, cleaning is a necessity. I believe that time spent in the service of others is time well spent. George Bernard Shaw said, “Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world,” and if that is so, I could rest easy at night working as a carpet cleaning technician, knowing that I was improving the worldview of my fellow West Michiganders! Also, I could rest easy because I was tired, man. I was working in a way that I had never worked before, but the challenge was a worthy one. I did indeed sleep well at night.
Needless to say, despite the challenges, I chose carpet cleaning over the office job, and it was a great choice for me. It has been a privilege to be invited into the homes and businesses of West Michigan for the last two years, and I do not take it for granted. Randy’s Carpet Care has challenged me to strive for excellence every day, with the philosophy that our job is not to clean carpets but to make a difference in our community and the lives of our customers. I am grateful to be a part of it!