Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Clearing the air
In my never-ending battle with bronchitis, I decided to rid my house of all unnecessary dust. If you're like me you've never had the air ducts in your home cleaned. I hadn't until a month ago.
If you're also like me you don't expect a service call with the air duct cleaning guy to be anything more than routine. You go on Yelp. You find a guy with decent reviews. You make the call. They come to your house. They break out the super-duper air duct cleaning machines.
Wham bam purified air, right?
At 11 AM on a clear Saturday morning, two vans showed up. In one van there was a friendly-looking, quiet Hispanic man. In the other van, the one of more interest, out popped a 6'2", 210 lbs. white guy who looked like he just stepped out of an MMA Thunderdome.
Or San Quentin.
Tatted from head-to-toe, he leaped from the van like a man on a mission.
He introduced himself and asked, forcefully but politely, if we could spend a few minutes talking about my particular air cleansing challenges.
He didn't want to know where the vents were located.
Or when the furnaces were installed.
He quizzed me about my allergies.
My past attempts to ameliorate the HVAC situation.
A few minutes turned into two hours. The canals in my ears were gathering dust.
I mistakenly offered him coffee but it was clear he had no need for any further stimulants. While he was explaining how a gas-powered furnace operates, I was watching the inked nerve muscles on his massive forearms twitching.
In fact, as I do whenever I encounter someone with old school tattoos, I instinctively looked for any gang insignia, or worse, Nazi emblems, like 88 or 4R or RAHOWA.
Thankfully, he had none.
But that hardly diminished his booming presence. He came on like a freight train, a derailed freight train. So much so that my family hid upstairs in their rooms. Knowing how torturous this whole pitch/service call was going and how I do not suffer salespeople gladly, my wife was in tears laughing at my dilemma.
Every question turned into a soliloquy.
I not only learned more than I wanted to know about ducts, dust, and microbes, I was an unwilling captive audience for tales about his colorful past, his odd church-going habits and his part time job cleaning the carpets at a strip club owned by his brother-in-law in Long Beach.
It was, as my daughters would say, "very sketch."
He had an animated, larger than life quality to everything he did. The way he walked. The way he talked. You could meet 10,000 strangers in your life, none would be as imposing or as memorable as this guy.
I could, and should, write a book about this unique character.
Maybe it was all part of his selling scam. And I must admit it was good. I opted for the premium clean up service. I bought the lifetime steel air filters. I paid top dollar for the whole kit and caboodle.
Here's what Mr. Throbbing-Tattoo-Musclehead-Air-Cleaner-Upper-Guy didn't know.
He charged me top dollar.
But the truth is, I would have paid him twice as much just to get him the hell out of my house.