The Clean Up Job

0
624

Photo: Phillip/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

I spent the ’97-’98 and ’98-’99 ski seasons in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  Poor planning and procrastination left me without a job in my field of studies after graduation.  It appeared that 4 (or so) years of post-secondary education were about to go to waste.  I was working in the quarry that summer, and found out that a few other buddies were facing the same grim realization.  Being the practical young men that we were, it was decided that we needed to move to Colorado to find our place in the world.

We loaded up our belongings and headed west.  There were 4 of us in the beginning, but we lost  one in Denver.  Apparently, a Structural Engineering degree is somewhat more valuable than my Public Relations and Political Science degrees, Marty’s General Studies degree, and Jake’s self-taught Common Sense degree.  We said our goodbyes and left the foothills for the slopes. 

For some reason, there wasn’t a welcoming party when we arrived in Steamboat.  Reality quickly set in when we found out that the nightly rates for one room in the Rabbit Ears Motel was $265.  We pooled our cash together and split the room.  Over the next few weeks, we found work helping build a new hotel where we met some pretty cool people.  Everyone worked multiple jobs to make ends meet, and a few guys told us about how they were cleaning up condos at night.  They got paid for each unit cleaned, so the quicker they worked, the more money they got.

The next morning, we scoured the classifieds and found just what we were looking for: Night Time Cleaners Wanted – Apply in person.  Come ready to work.  As soon as we punched out of our day jobs, we rushed over, hoping to beat the other desperate misplaced flat landers.  The address in the ad led us to the O.K. Meats Butcher Shop.  We assumed that the owners of the condos that we were going to clean also owned the butcher shop, so we walked in.  It seemed logical at the time.

After finishing with a customer, the owner looked at us and said “Can I help you boys??”

“We’re here about the cleaning job in the paper,” I said.

“Where are you boys from?” he inquired.

“Iowa,” replied Jake.

“That should work,” he excitedly said.  “Follow me and we’ll get you to work.”

Well, I have to admit that was the easiest interview I’d ever had.  We blindly followed him to the back of the building, assuming that we would be getting directed to the condos to clean.  He stopped at a closet on the way and handed us each an apron, which seemed a little weird, then he opened the back door.  On the other side was a sight that I will never forget.  Six large elk were laying on the floor of a large attached garage.  There was a pickup by an overhead door with the tailgate open and a giant bull elk being dragged out to lay by the rest.

“We shut the door for incoming animals at 8 pm, and you stay until the last elk is cleaned.  Here are your knives, there are sharpeners on every wall, and Tracy will direct you from here.  Any questions?”

I’m assuming the expressions on our faces matched those of the elk on the floor.  He nodded and walked back to the front of the store as we stood, knives in hand, aprons tied, dumfounded and lost.  We were brought back to reality when Tracy, a 6’ 2”, 300 pound mountain man, barked at us to “get your asses over here!”

Over the course of a few weeks, we helped clean hundreds of elk, deer, antelope, and even one mountain lion.  It was probably the greatest job I’ve ever had, and I look at the knife scars on my hands with fondness.  Some nights we would have elk stacked 2 high over the entire floor when the doors closed at 8:00, and wouldn’t punch out until 2:00 am.  One night we had a record bull brought in, and nobody had a camera.  We called one of our roommates to bring a disposable one in for us.  When he arrived, we were on dinner break, all sitting on top of elk eating pizza.  He came in, looked at the scene, dropped the camera, and ran!

I keep in touch with those guys, and we often reminisce about our short time at O. K. Meats, which was bought out in 1999.  I wonder if we would still talk about our time as house keepers if we had replied to the correct ad?

I spent the ’97-’98 and ’98-’99 ski seasons in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  Poor planning and procrastination left me without a job in my field of studies after graduation.  It appeared that 4 (or so) years of post-secondary education were about to go to waste.  I was working in the quarry that summer, and found out that a few other buddies were facing the same grim realization.  Being the practical young men that we were, it was decided that we needed to move to Colorado to find our place in the world.

We loaded up our belongings and headed west.  There were 4 of us in the beginning, but we lost  one in Denver.  Apparently, a Structural Engineering degree is somewhat more valuable than my Public Relations and Political Science degrees, Marty’s General Studies degree, and Jake’s self-taught Common Sense degree.  We said our goodbyes and left the foothills for the slopes. 

For some reason, there wasn’t a welcoming party when we arrived in Steamboat.  Reality quickly set in when we found out that the nightly rates for one room in the Rabbit Ears Motel was $265.  We pooled our cash together and split the room.  Over the next few weeks, we found work helping build a new hotel where we met some pretty cool people.  Everyone worked multiple jobs to make ends meet, and a few guys told us about how they were cleaning up condos at night.  They got paid for each unit cleaned, so the quicker they worked, the more money they got.

The next morning, we scoured the classifieds and found just what we were looking for: Night Time Cleaners Wanted – Apply in person.  Come ready to work.  As soon as we punched out of our day jobs, we rushed over, hoping to beat the other desperate misplaced flat landers.  The address in the ad led us to the O.K. Meats Butcher Shop.  We assumed that the owners of the condos that we were going to clean also owned the butcher shop, so we walked in.  It seemed logical at the time.

After finishing with a customer, the owner looked at us and said “Can I help you boys??”

“We’re here about the cleaning job in the paper,” I said.

“Where are you boys from?” he inquired.

“Iowa,” replied Jake.

“That should work,” he excitedly said.  “Follow me and we’ll get you to work.”

Well, I have to admit that was the easiest interview I’d ever had.  We blindly followed him to the back of the building, assuming that we would be getting directed to the condos to clean.  He stopped at a closet on the way and handed us each an apron, which seemed a little weird, then he opened the back door.  On the other side was a sight that I will never forget.  Six large elk were laying on the floor of a large attached garage.  There was a pickup by an overhead door with the tailgate open and a giant bull elk being dragged out to lay by the rest.

“We shut the door for incoming animals at 8 pm, and you stay until the last elk is cleaned.  Here are your knives, there are sharpeners on every wall, and Tracy will direct you from here.  Any questions?”

I’m assuming the expressions on our faces matched those of the elk on the floor.  He nodded and walked back to the front of the store as we stood, knives in hand, aprons tied, dumfounded and lost.  We were brought back to reality when Tracy, a 6’ 2”, 300 pound mountain man, barked at us to “get your asses over here!”

Over the course of a few weeks, we helped clean hundreds of elk, deer, antelope, and even one mountain lion.  It was probably the greatest job I’ve ever had, and I look at the knife scars on my hands with fondness.  Some nights we would have elk stacked 2 high over the entire floor when the doors closed at 8:00, and wouldn’t punch out until 2:00 am.  One night we had a record bull brought in, and nobody had a camera.  We called one of our roommates to bring a disposable one in for us.  When he arrived, we were on dinner break, all sitting on top of elk eating pizza.  He came in, looked at the scene, dropped the camera, and ran!

I keep in touch with those guys, and we often reminisce about our short time at O. K. Meats, which was bought out in 1999.  I wonder if we would still talk about our time as house keepers if we had replied to the correct ad?

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here