Dirty Jobs

Where is Mike Rowe when you need him? It’s been several years since he worked those “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel. Mike has been neck-deep in stuff most of us hope never to touch or go near. He’s spent hours in places I wouldn’t drive past even with the windows rolled up.

Nothing was too nasty for Mike. He just smiled and put on his armor, hoping it might keep him out of the germ ward at the hospital. I needed his help recently, but his number must be unlisted. Thankfully, the worst is behind us. Or maybe I should say the worst is in the past to avoid confusion.

My mother grew up just across the Dooly County line in the edge of Pulaski. The first house she lived in burned when a log rolled out of the fireplace. Nothing was saved except for two rocking chairs off the front porch and a butter knife found in the ashes. She still uses that little knife and is rather fond of it. If I knew how many biscuits it’s buttered, I’d call the folks at Guiness.

Granddaddy had a new house built, which they moved into when Mama was 11 or 12. It’s nothing fancy, a small frame dwelling made from green lumber sawed off the family farm. Some fine people and good friends have rented it since Grandmama’s death in 1978. They took good care of it and left it in better shape than they had found it.

There have also been a few tenants who trashed it to some extent. The bar has recently been lowered, however, setting a new standard. Mr. Clean begged me not to take him inside until the roaches were gone. He’s the one who suggested I ask Mike Rowe to help.

Those of you who have been reading Joiner’s Corner for a while know I don’t mind exaggerating to make a point. But I’m sticking with facts when I tell you that my brother and I have hauled off 57 bags of trash. The first thirteen came from an outside burn pile.

Apparently, the folks had an aversion toward dumpsters. We filled 13 bags with broken glass, cans, bottles, and things I’m probably glad I couldn’t identify. The other 44 bags mostly came from inside. The filth was so bad I apologized to my rubber gloves and offered them early retirement.

 If the woman had been asked to get out quickly, I might have more empathy. But that wasn’t the case. “Take your time,” I said. “Don’t worry about the rent. Maybe a few months off will help you with the moving expenses.” I didn’t mention about leaving it clean, unaware there was any need to.

She left some things in the yard and on the porch that I figured would be picked up later, so we didn’t go in the house for about a month after it was vacated. Opening the back door changed my life. I didn’t realize how many roaches could fit on top of a door. Maybe they were looking for a way out.      

A lot of the piled and partially bagged clothing could have been used by someone. But when cloth is comingled with unrefrigerated food, milk, pudding, and such, it tends to deteriorate. The roaches were thrilled with the cloth and food combination and delicately aged toilet water.  

After four insect foggers, three gallons of Ortho Home Defense, two quarts of roach powder, and several cans of various sprays, I’m excited to report some progress. The roach population has been reduced from the hundreds to merely dozens. Or they’re hiding in places I’ve not yet discovered.

We’ve torn the paneling off the walls and Celotex off the ceiling. Now we’re spraying the original wood with Clorox and industrial strength cleaners. After another month or so of scrubbing and disinfecting, I’ll take my paintbrush out of its holster and give the old house a shot of fresh relief.

It’s tempting to be angry, but that’s not what I’m feeling. I’m sad, instead, because three young children have been given a terrible example. Lessons of childhood are hard to unteach.

Jesus gave us wonderful instructions in Matthew 7:12. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” So, to the lady that trashed my grandmother’s home, I want you to know I’m not mad. But I hope and pray you’ll reflect on what your children are learning. The Golden Rule would be a good place to begin some discussions.  

P.S. I almost forgot to thank you for the cats and fully stocked litter box. Alger and Benjamin are doing fine and gaining weight, but they sure do miss living inside.

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4 Responses to Dirty Jobs

  1. Ellen Hunsucker says:

    What a nightmare experience! I admire your gracious attitude toward the tenant! As her children could learn from the Golden Rule, your readers can learn from you! Bet it was fun decontaminating yourself every evening!


  2. Judy says:

    Oh my! I was picturing the scene in my mind as I was reading, and it was not a pretty sight. All I can say is “God bless you and Jimmy”!


  3. TRAV CARTER says:

    If you know who the new landlord is, I would give them a heads-up!


  4. Melanie says:

    I too admire your gracious attitude toward your old tenant but I can’t imagine you having any other attitude. We can all learn a lot from you. Thanks for setting a good example for all of us!


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