by Ellen Weeren
I just read this post by Seth Godin about “those people”.
If you aren’t familiar with the name, Seth is a guru of sorts on everything “thinking”. And that’s just what his posts do – they encourage you to think about things. And the posts are generally short, so they don’t hurt your brain too much. 😉
Seth’s latest post reminded me of a man I saw at the car wash the other day – in fact, that man has been on my mind a lot lately. I had thought about writing about him – but never took the time to do it.
Seth’s post reminded me that I should give this man his due.
A few weeks ago, I had my kids take all of their stuff out of the minivan so that I could drive it over to the car wash and pay $50 to have it cleaned, vacuumed, and spit shined.
And, please don’t even ask – of course, they were bothered by having to remove all of their c.r.a.p. so that I could pay someone else to clean up their mess.
Their shoes, their trash, and their basketballs (oh how I hate those basketballs clanking around in my car) … and I couldn’t reach the van-cleaning fairy … so they actually had to get off their arses and get their stuff out of the car so that I could spend an hour watching someone clean it for them. And yes, I might have yelled out something just like that right before they leaped into action.
Okay, I did.
Anywash, I got to the car wash and paid for the super clean option because that’s exactly what it needed – a super cleaning.
This option takes a while so I brought a book with me. I sat on a bench in the warmth of the sun with a cold Diet Dr. Pepper and read while my car was being cleaned. (And no, the irony is not lost on me here. I get it.)
One of the washers caught my attention and I lost all interest in the words in front of me.
He was absolutely fascinating. He cleaned my car with all the pride of ownership. As if he had saved for months for just that very car. Like it was a special car. He was even smiling while cleaning up someone else’s mess.
He’d polish a spot, lean back, and clean it again.
The window, that would have taken me all of a minute and a half, consumed a good eight minutes of his focused attention. This was not a “oh, if I take longer, I’ll have to do less” situation. It was very clearly a “this is my job and I’m going to be the very best at it I can be” situation.
He’d clean the back area of the car and then close the hatch. But, then he’d open the hatch again and double check – just to make sure everything was clean.
It seemed like he did this for every crevice he came across.
I’m sure I was sitting there like a fool with my mouth agape.
My doctor probably isn’t even that precise.
Now, I haven’t applied for a job at a car wash lately – but this guy can’t make more than say $12 an hour.
And it struck me how unfair this all really is. My kids were sitting at home on their arses with a litany of opportunities waiting before them (many that they can’t be bothered with) and this guy is busting his arse with probably not that many options.
To be fair to my kids, they do work hard too.
But not the way this guy does. They don’t have that kind of pride in the mundane things they do – heck, they don’t do too many mundane things.
I’m not really sure how all of this will change but imagine what that guy could accomplish with more responsibility and more opportunities.
It’s heart-breaking that he might not have the chance to do anything more than clean a window.