Sunday, November 6, 2011


I spent this weekend and part of last weekend getting our rental property ready for the next renters. Once everything had been moved out of the living room, Mark and I were not sure the carpet would be salvageable. Not only had it not been vacuumed with any regularity but I had doubts that spills had been even attempted to be cleaned up. Last week I did some research on the internet and found that red stains can often be removed by using a mixture of half hot water, half ammonia sprayed into the stain. The spot is then covered with a thick towel and a hot steam iron applied over the towel. The towel wicks up the red dye. A little scrubbing with the hot towel also helps. It works quite well, but requires repetition and patience. Five hours doing this and other spot cleaning as well as overall cleaning on the living room alone gave us hope that the carpet would come clean. This past weekend I personally spent eight hours on the carpets throughout the house, and a few more hours cleaning windows, walls, doors, baseboards. Maybe we should have just replaced the carpet... but it is only a few years old. I was very grateful for the two women that we hired to clean the kitchen and bathrooms as well as Jennifer and Mark who also put in many hours of work.

As I cleaned I had a lot of time in my head. I forgot my ear buds so I had no access to music. I found that as I cleaned I became more frustrated and angry with our renters. How could adults live in such squalor? Slobs! How could you function day to day in this mess? Irresponsible! What kind of people trash a house like this? Inconsiderate! Where do they go now - to trash another place? Users! I went from room to room gathering evidence as to the despicable nature of these people. I was sure they sublet the house (not allowed). Obviously they had a pet hamster or guinea pig or whatever (despite not pets being allowed). They were dishonest. Although there was no smell inside of cigarette smoke inside the house, washing the handles around the closet doors removed a layer of grime that made it necessary to wash the whole door and made me wonder. Ink (mostly) comes out with hairspray - rinsing with a vinegar and water mixture. Large spots of matted down carpet come clean with Oxiclean, a little dish soap and hot water saturated into the spot and gently (or not so gently) teased out with a soft scrub brush - allow to sit for 5 minutes while you go to another spot and then come back and suck it out with the carpet cleaner, rinse with vinegar and water and rinse and rinse again. Gum... well sometimes Oxiclean mixture, other times scissors, depends on how long is has been there.

By then end of the day the house looked sparkling clean and even smelled good. But I was upset and frustrated. Little things made me mad or brought me to tears. On the way home we began to talk about how much, if any of the deposit will be returned and I hit the wall. I felt sick inside. I had poisoned my own heart with all of my negative thoughts. "Enough with the negative, someone tell me something wonderful about some one!" the plea tumbled from my lips and my heart ached for the antidote. I needed to see the good in others, to have empathy or sympathy or love. I needed to feel kind, thankful, warm feelings about people. The three of us were silent for a few minutes... my poison had spread and infected the others. We finally talked about my sweet grandchildren for a few minutes, an instant fix when I need to feel some joy. It was a start but my heart was still hard and hurting. We couldn't come up with anything else (pretty pathetic state we were in), so we turned to music and I tried to focus my thoughts on the evidence all around me that life is good and people are good, kind and considerate and doing the best they can.

The next morning I was still amazed at how my heart has not fully healed and how thoughts, when dwelt upon and left unchecked, can change the way we view others, and life in general. How quickly I could loose my perspective and how much effort it was taking to get it back.

As we were driving home we passed through some road construction that caused all the traffic to be merged into one lane. Our car has one headlight that has a short and goes off and on while we drive. No one's been able to fix it for us. There were a few places where we would go back to two lanes with just enough time for the faster traffic to pass slower traffic before being merged into one lane again. At one of these passing places the car in front of us began to go very slowly. We passed him and he jumped behind us. For the next stretch of one lane highway he proceeded to flash his brights at us repeatedly (as I'm sure he assumed we had done to him).

The driver misjudged us. We laughed at the whole situation and I wonder how I had misjudged our renter(s). Maybe they truly don't know any better. Maybe they grew up being used and not taught to care. Maybe they had issues with their wiring that they haven't been able to resolve. I doubt I would rent to them again and they need to be responsible for the mess and damage, but who am I to condemn them as individuals? Especially when I have my own flaws I'm continually working on... like learning to watch my thoughts and learning not to judge others. A little bit of compassion began to work its way back in to my heart.

1 comment:

MZ said...

Thanks for the reminder that thoughts are powerful things...