Sunday, August 27, 2006

Shaniqua on the Job

One of our favorite children’s books is Julius Lester’s “What a Truly Cool World,” which features the wonderful character, Shaniqua, the “angel in charge of everybody’s business.” When something fortuitous or especially providential seems to happen (e.g. a parking spot opens up right next to the entrance as we pull into the mall parking lot), we will often give the credit, tongue-in-cheek, to our friend Shaniqua.
So a couple weeks ago this fellow comes to my door, giving me the "opportunity" to "win" $1000. I'm not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but I'm not quite that dim. Still, I was polite while the fellow urged me to sign up, and explained that if I didn't win the 1K, there was a "consolation" prize: to have the carpets in my house cleaned.
I’m not exactly sure why – it had something to do with the tiny chance of winning some money, something to do with confidence in my ability to say “no” to products I don’t want or people I don’t want in my house, something to do with… well, with the cosmic order of things. I signed the card.

The following week, I received a phone call, saying I'd "won" the consolation prize, and when would be a good time for Mr. Vacuum Guy to do my household carpets.

"Well, we don't have any carpet in our home," I told her. "We have wood floors and a few area rugs."

She replied, "An alternative would be for him to shampoo any upholstery you have."

"Nope. None of that neither," I said. "But I DO have a car that desperately needs some shampooing, after a chocolate something or other exploded in the back seat and sprayed the car with gunk."

Undeterred, she began to set up an appointment. We settled on a possible time, and I then asked if the fellow would be ready not to shampoo the carpets, but to clean my car.
"I'll have to check on that," she said.

"You check on it, then," I said. "When you do, and have confirmed that my car is what he'll do, call me back and we’ll put the appointment in ink." She agreed and I figured that was the end of that story.

Imagine my surprise the following week when Mr. Vacuum Guy showed up at my house, 30 minutes before the time we had sort of arranged, ready to step inside and show me the collection of dust and insect doots and who knows what carpet-loving evils I subjected my family to each day -- and of course, his marvelous solution.
Well, we were just sitting down to eat, I told him, and I hadn't really agreed to a visit for carpet cleaning. But I did have a nasty car that needed help. If he were eager for my attention, I could observe him cleaning my car and give my opinion of the machine he used to do it. He was unsure what to do, so he went away, apparently called his boss, who gave him permission to give me an “outside of home” demonstration. When he returned after dinner, he was ready to clean the car. "It's pretty bad, I said. You’d be surprised.”

"No problem," he replied. "I used to do auto detailing. We'll get 'er in shape right away." I got him some lemonade, and we spent a nice hour, chatting pleasantly as he did a spectacular job on my car.
Then I mentally checked off a huge item off my "to do" list.
Way to go, Shaniqua!

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