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Winter Wonderland & the Thoughtless Customer

We've been kind of beaten up by Mother Nature here in New England over the past several days. Last Thursday's afternoon's snowstorm had home-bound commuters tied up for hours. Then came Sunday morning's snowstorm, on top of the iced up snow from Thursday. Then, if you were watching Sunday's afternoon's Patriots - Jets game, you saw that it had all turned to sleet & rain, which went on for many hours. Then Sunday night the temperature dropped down into the teens, and a strong wind developed at the same time. Come Monday morning, everything looked like, and was as hard as, white marble or concrete. Anticipating this, I had on Sunday night called my two Monday customers, to postpone & reschedule. But I did venture out today (Tuesday) to a very nice home in very posh Lexington, about a block from the Battle Green.

First of all, the narrow street was a sheet of ice, but that wasn't the customer's fault. But just about everything else was. On the phone the customer had said to park in the driveway. Just about enough of it had been cleared for me to fit in there, but first I had to stop in the middle of this narrow, snowpile-bound street, get out of my vehicle, and move her several trash barrels and many recycling containers out of the only space where I could drive into the driveway. The driveway itself was a combination of slick ice and small drifts of frozen snow. While the rear steps to her kitchen were right there, she or her husband had not bothered to clear any of the deep, frozen snow in the pathway, or clear the rear stairs or back porch.

Now I had to schlep about 60' along an icy sidewalk to the street corner, then turn left and go another 20' or so to her front walk. The ice on neither sidewalk had been treated with ice-melt, sand, or anything. Nor was the entry walk, or the ice-covered front stairs up to the entry to the house. And there was a 2-foot wall of shovelled snow across the walkway itself.

When I had managed to struggle to the top of the stairs by grasping the railings, I rang the bell. She comes to the door, all la-la-la, saying: "How was the driving? Did you have any trouble getting here?"
To which I said: "Have you forgotten that we had an appointment this morning? You haven't cleared or sanded anything, and I have heavy equipment and lots of other things to carry in". "Oh" she says, "I told my husband you were coming, and I asked him to spread the ice melter for you, but he said he had to be in court early, and didn't have enough time". (Guess he's a lawyer.). She then said she would go and try and find the ice-melt, but she didn't know how she would get to the garage to do so, with all the snow & ice in the way and everything. I told her I would look for it. I did find some, put some down all along my walking route, and somehow managed to make it into the house. To make things a little easier, instead of my Challenger, which I don't think I could have gotten over the wall of frozen snow across her front walkway, I instead carried what I sometimes use as a backup machine: this is the large stair machine which is shown on the website. I don't care for it as a stair tool, finding it too heavy and awkward to use on stairs. I have, however, rigged up a handle for it and now use it as a small area floor machine. It's easy to pick up an carry, even given these extreme conditions.

I told the customer that due to the inhospitable conditions (my actual words) I would be assessing her a surcharge to make up for lack of adequate access, the amount of time that I was spending moving slowly with equipment, spreading the ice-melt, and working with a smaller machine than I would normally use. She kind of shrugged, which I took as an "OK".

Fortunately the job itself went fairly rapidly, small machine and all, despite my having to move all kinds of stuff that, if she were more thoughtful, she would have taken care of myself. The appointment started at 8:30, and I was wrapping things up at 11:30, and the invoice came to about $315, so I felt I didn't have to assess the surcharge, since I had hit (slightly exceeded, actually) my $100 per hour goal.

Bet she wouldn't have left the driveway, sidewalks and entry walkway the way she did if she was having company over.

Re: Winter Wonderland & the Thoughtless Customer

I had one of those today. Ever noticed that the people who call wanting it done today are always pita?

This lady is a good previous customer, but "forgot" and needed it done today. My 9:00AM had "forgot" to leave the door unlocked, so I had an open hole and put her in it. She mentioned she had two rather large rugs down upstairs that I would need to move. She had put them down to hide the doggy urine stains on the carpets. I asked her if the rugs had any furniture on top of them, and she said no.

Well guess what ... two beds, two dressers and a desk later, I had the rugs up and was cleaning her carpets.

Re: Winter Wonderland & the Thoughtless Customer

That story reminds me of when I started out with only the oreck orbiter... good times. Does your challenger stair tool oscillate in reverse direction? I don't use it on cut pile nylons due to that.

I helped an old lady bring in her Christmas tree and put it in the stand today, at least there was no snow.

Re: Winter Wonderland & the Thoughtless Customer

There doesn't seem to be any reverse oscillation, Grant. But I think I know what you mean about the Oreck product. I had one for a while, and it seemed very, I don't know, kind of bouncy.