After more than nine years in the carpet cleaning business, few appointments can surprise or intimidate me. Carpet washing is a routine job of repetitive actions, and you rarely have to use all your skills or the tools at your disposal.
The job I am going to tell you about, however, was different. It was one of the most exciting and challenging tasks I have ever faced as a professional carpet cleaner from start to finish.
Getting An Unexpected Call
Whenever I can, I like to manipulate my schedule so that I can get a day off. So when the office number appeared on my just after breakfast, I was strongly tempted not to answer. I thought better of it and took the call. My slight irritation quickly turned into surprise when I realised it was my boss calling, not one of the customer support operators.
“I have a special task for you, old boy! And one you might enjoy! How do you feel about an emergency carpet deep-clean in a five-star hotel?” Now, I have to mention something about my boss – the guy literally lives for his practical tricks. The more elaborate the joke, the more he enjoys it. But he immediately assured me that he would not make fun of such a golden opportunity. When he mentioned the hotel’s name, my jaw dropped – it was arguably one of the top ten venues in the city. Such establishments usually have an extensive cleaning staff of their own, so this had to be an extraordinary case. With my curiosity provoked, I began preparing for the job.
What Carpet Cleaning Armageddon Looks Like
When I arrived at the hotel, I immediately went to the reception and showed my credentials. A couple of minutes later, the shift manager appeared in the hotel lobby with a worried look on his face and asked me to follow him. I tried to make some initial inquiries about the job, but he only said “you have to see it for yourself”, which only increased my curiosity. The elevator stopped on the last floor, which lead me to believe we were heading to the most expensive rooms. In fact, we were going for the presidential suite – or rather what was left of it.
As it turned out, a group of young financial sharks from the City had gathered to celebrate the stag night of a colleague. I could only imagine how much they had spent to book the presidential suite of a high-end hotel, and they must have gone berserk during the party. The hotel maids had already removed all the wreckage – champagne, wine, and beer bottles, ruined bed sheets, and food leftovers. But the stench of alcohol remained, and it didn’t take a carpet cleaner to notice that the whole floor was soaked. There were stains of God knows what all over the place, and the fibre surface had already begun to look dishevelled.
“We are going to pay you for a one-hour visit at your regular rate just to check the condition of the carpets. But I need to know whether you can save the carpet or should I call a re-fitter right away. We cannot allow our presidential suite to remain out of service for more than a couple of days.” I could sense the irritation of the manager in his voice – like he was saying “see what kind of animals we have to deal with?” His question was tricky – the carpets were in terrible condition, but fortunately, the hotel staff had called us quickly. In such cases, time is of the critical essence. The apartment was huge, though, and I knew it was not a job for a single guy.
After a five-minute call with my boss, in which I described the damage, he immediately set off for the hotel. If we were going to tackle one of the most challenging jobs in the history of our company, we were bringing the big guns!
A Run Against The Clock
There was no time to spare, so I immediately turned on my hot-water extraction monster and got to work. I expected that we had to wash the whole floor twice – first to get rid of all the smothered alcohol, then to speed-dry the carpet, and then repeat the treatment with a low-steam programme. When my boss arrived, he approved the approach and joined with the second steam washer.
It was an arduous and time-consuming task. Usually, when you work on a home carpet, you can notice the change of colour almost immediately as the dust comes off the surface. This time it was different – we had to go over and over again the most problematic spots and change the water tank twice because it had accumulated so much dirt.
Slowly but steadily, however, the tide began to turn. The smell in the room changed noticeably, and the carpets had lost their moribund look. We finished the first round of steam washing and turned on the turbo dryers. It allowed us to spot the problematic areas with more persistent stains (vomit, if I had to guess), which we were going to address last. After allowing half an hour for the dryers to work their magic, we went into the second round of hot water extraction. The difference could not be more staggering – the fibres on the surface had utterly regained their colour and elasticity and were responding surprisingly well to the treatment. If the first steam-washing round had taken us almost two hours for the entire suite, the second lasted less than an hour. After one more 30-minute round of drying, we could get on with the stain removal and put the finishing touches with the deodoriser.
When all was said and done, the carpets looked like brand new. I could hardly restrain my sense of pride – it was a job well done. When the hotel manager walked in, the expression on his face said it all. “You guys are magicians!”, he exclaimed and had to touch the carpet with his hand to believe what he was seeing. I did not stay for the payment negotiation – believe it or not, I did not particularly care. I had arrived at the hotel at 11 A.M. – by the time we finished, it was already almost 7 P.M. It was by far the longest carpet cleaning job I had ever taken.
When I came to the office the next day, my boss handed me a closed envelope. “You just earned a hefty Christmas bonus, old boy! Tell you what, this was a carpet cleaning appointment for the ages!”
I couldn’t agree more.