There was a time I could not enter a room without looks at its floor, looking hard at its corners, inspecting its baseboards, the bull-nose leading from one room to another. This is what happens to you when you clean a lot of houses.
It’s a learned behavior. If you’re quick on your feet, you will catch yourself in the act of inspecting and throw in a quick voice-over.
My narrarator is usually David Attenborough.
“Years of manual labor serve her well as her keen sense of sight hones in on the sloppy attention given the cleaning of the quarter-round. Smug in her personal belief that too few people notice these details, she vows two things: One, that she will hire Mary to come and clean her floors to sparkly perfection; and Two, that she will have a party and find an unobtrusive way of calling drunken revelers’ attention to her immaculate, Mary-cleaned quarter-round, perhaps during a game of Twister…
And so the cycle of life continues.”
There’s a lot of time for thinking, if done properly.
But looking down, that’s no way to live your life, now, is it?
So I’m looking at ceilings.
I spent quite a bit of time Sunday climbing up and down a ladder. The ceilings in the rental unit downstairs – now empty and awaiting the next tenants – are, after all, 10 feet high, a ridiculous height when you’re 5’4 (and three-quarters).
It was the ceiling fan I was after. The ceiling fan in the kitchen, to be specific.
You see, when the schmutz is two inches thick, when the dust/skin/mystery fibers stream from its whirring blades like macabre party favors, it’s time to clean them.
My mind spins with filthy ceiling fan implications.
“I can’t believe how hot it is in this kitchen! Honey, why don’t you turn on that ceiling fan? Now who wants more soup?”
As an aside, prior to becoming a landlord/lady/tron I would have bet against my using the words “dust/skin/mystery fibers stream from its whirring blades” in a sentence.
Once close enough to the blades to attack them with a screwdriver and remove them for a thorough cleaning, I learned something else.
When you’re perched atop a ladder and staring up at a filthy ceiling fan, you’re going to want to keep your mouth shut.
Nothing horrible happened, but the thought hit me, strong and sure of itself: There are many times that keeping your mouth shut would be a good idea. This is one of those times.
I pride myself on this kind of thinking. “Keep your mouth shut” is near the top of the list of ideas that will serve one well throughout a lifetime.
Of course there’s also “The man that ‘just needs a couple of bucks to get home’ isn’t really looking for bus fare” and “Be wary of the discount hamburger”. But you probably already knew this.
An hour later and the ceiling fan blades are clean, the ceiling itself prepared for a fresh coat of paint.
The next tenant may never know the insidious ways of the filthy ceiling fan.
And everything is looking up.
Five in Five: Tuesday, January 23
5 hours ago