TIPS FROM THERIOT


♪♫I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So let’s make the most of this beautiful day.♪♫

Many important events have taken place in May: Cheerios hit stores on May 1, 1941; Mr. Potato Head wobbled his way onto store shelves on May 1, 1952; Andy Kaufman died on May 16, 1984. But May 23, 2019 means the most to me. For this was the date of the first “143 Day.” This worldwide day of kindness honors Pennsylvania native Fred Rogers, better known as the beloved host of the eponymous Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The name of the day refers to the special code for “I love you”: I (1) Love (4) You (3) that Mister Rogers often used. May 23 also happens to be the 143rd day of the year. To celebrate the day, people are encouraged to be kind to and to do a good deed. In the words of Mister Rogers, “Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.” Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood premiered on Pittsburgh’s local PBS station WQED in 1966, and on February 19, 1968 the show made its national debut on NET (National Educational Television), the predecessor to PBS. And as the above excerpt from the show’s theme song, “Won’t You Be Neighbor,” says, his goal was to help us make the most of our days, bring beauty to our lives, and make us all feel like his cherished neighbors. And he succeeded. “I went into television because I hated it so, and I thought there’s some way of using this fabulous instrument to nurture those who would watch and listen.” His decision to utilize this tool is a gift that keeps on giving. He taught us life lessons through sharing his interactions with neighbors such as Mr. McFeely and Officer Clemmons and by inviting us to ride the trolley to the Land Of Make-Believe where we were immersed in the magical world of characters such as Daniel Striped Tiger and Lady Aberlin. Through song, he tells us that nothing about us is a mistake and that he loves us just as we are. As he washed his clothes in the sink and hung them to dry singing, “Clean up, pick up, put away, clean up every day!” he taught us how to clean! This May, let’s bring a little Mister Rogers into our lives, and the lives of others, by being kind and by being a helper. When in doubt about how to react to a situation, think to yourself, WWMRD—What Would Mister Rogers Do? Now here’s a little cleaning inspo! 143!


What are the most disgusting things you’ve seen while cleaning, and how did you deal with it?
Wow, there is so much gross to choose from. After nearly 14 years of professional cleaning, I’ve encountered some really gnarly things. But there are three things that consistently make my eyes water with pre-puke tears, my stomach churn, and cause me to gag (and a few times vomit). I call this trifecta the MUP: maggots, urine, pubes.

Maggots

Nothing disgusts me more than these little Lucilia cuprina. The name is even gross, right? In 2023 I saw more of these teensy undulating undertakers than ever, and I was very unhappy about it. One of my grossest larval encounters took place at the beginning of my career. Whilst doing the dishes at a client’s home, I came upon a blender jar filled with a mixture of rotting food and writhing maggots. I screamed at the sight, as my skin nearly crawled away. I became unsteady on my feet and accidentally tipped the jar over. When the putrid smell entered my nostrils, I vomited. Then I became very, very angry and quickly left the home. I am an eco-friendly cleaner. I’m not physically or emotionally equipped to disinfect your home after a death or to clean up hazardous waste. I’m ready for your grime scene but not your crime scene, my dude. Clean up your putrid chum, because after a lady fly lays her eggs (between 50 to 100) in your mushy filth, maggots hatch within 12 hours and start devouring it. My maggot encounters this year were purely mistakes, all happening when people went out of town and their housesitters let the trash sit too long. Shame! It’s easy, yet absolutely nightmarish to clean up the wiggly devils. The tools required for my usual plan of action include thick rubber gloves, a lot of wet rags, and a garbage bag. I place the rags over the gruesome beasties, scoop them up with the rag, squish it into a ball, throw the rag containing the corpses into the bag, then place them in an outside garbage can. If you’d like to kill the maggots instantly before touching them, pour salt all over them. If there was a Mister Rogers song about murdering maggots, I bet the experience would be much more enjoyable. “Grab the salt! Shake, shake, shake. The creepy crawlers are gone, for goodness sake!”

Urine

I’m not talking about a tinkle sprinkle here. I’m good with that. I’m referring to a toilet and adjacent wall soaked in it. It’s the smell that gets to me the most. The sulphury smell of bacteria-laden, dried human pee… woof. When I see the toilet-region of a bathroom coated with the yellowish-orange waste, the thought of someone spraying it everywhere turns my stomach. Like, why you doin’ that? A solution made of 1/3 isopropyl alcohol, 2/3 white vinegar, and 10 drops of citrus essential oil is a urine killer. Also, enzymatic cleaners are great at eating the bacteria that causes that yucky urine smell. Baking soda is also great for eliminating the stank!

Pubes

I’m absolutely fine picking up your pubes. It’s my job after all. I’m grossed out when there are gazillions of them and they seemingly keep multiplying, or when I find an errant one on my gloved hand (really off-putting). My solution to this hairy situation is water or a vacuum. If a shower has a detachable shower head (best invention ever for a cleaner), I hose all of the pubes off the walls and floor and into the drain grate. Then with my gloved hand, I pull the netherhair out of the grates and throw them into a garbage bag. If the shower doesn’t have a detachable shower head, I make sure that the shower floor is dry and vacuum the bush slough. Hasta la vista, junk whiskers!


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