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"C-Plus" and Satisfied

Yesterday I cleaned the garage. It’s a twice-annual chore for me (spring and fall), and something I do with moderate proficiency. Already, you’re probably asking yourself two questions: 1) “How does someone become ‘good’ at cleaning a garage” and 2) “Why do I care?”

Good questions -- both -- and unfortunately for you, I have no good answers. All I know is this: twice a year, I get disgusted by how much of our “life” has accumulated in the garage, in places where they shouldn’t be (according to me, anyway), and I take action.

Of the chores and projects in my household purview, I think this is my favorite because there’s a visible result: things are put in their places and everything appears much more orderly, and that brings me a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, much like the feeling I get when I shovel snow. Plus, after the chore is complete, I can look at my work and say to myself (doing my best Morgan Freeman impersonation), “Haznaw, you are one (expletive deleted) excellent garage cleaner.” And yesterday was no exception.

For me, cleaning the garage includes three primary categories:

· Category 1: Moving the past season’s implements, tools, and toys out of the way to accommodate the incoming season’s implements tools, and toys.

· Category 2: Re-arranging and returning items that were temporarily moved from the basement or brought down from the garage’s “attic” during the previous season and not put back after we used them.

· Category 3: Getting rid of, for lack of a better term, “crap” that paid us a visit in recent weeks and months and decided it had squatter’s rights in the corners and along the inside perimeter. You may have this stuff in your garage; they’re the things that make parking our cars more difficult as the weeks and months pass. (NOTE: this phase also includes setting things aside for Joan to determine a) what they are or b) what we should do with them.)

In addition to the exhilaration I feel when I see a clean(er) garage, I like this activity because it’s done on a “macro” level. In other words, since it’s not an indoor venue (kitchen, bathroom, family room), there’s no “white-glove” expectation, meaning the garage (and by extension, its cleaner) isn’t held to “indoor-clean” standards. For me, that’s a big deal because while I’m great at moving things, re-arranging and replacing things and throwing things out, if you need “eat-off-the-floor” cleanliness, I’m not your man. (Indoor cleaning has too many specific cleaning agents and tools and I invariably end up using the wrong spray, brush, or technique. That said, I can vacuum like an S.O.B.)

What intrigues me about cleaning the garage is the stuff I find that wasn’t present the previous season, and I’m not sure why it’s there at all (Category 3). It’s the bent, rusty 18-inch piece of metal wire with a loop (or maybe a hook) on the end. Where did it come from and what is (or was) its function?

It’s the two random hex nuts I swept up from the corner. Did they fall off the lawnmower? The car? No one knows, and hopefully, no one ever will.

It’s the small cardboard box that has been sitting quietly along one wall for months, and it contains 15 to 20 random items, from an old Chap-Stick to a single work glove, a golf ball, an Allen wrench, and a disposable facemask (a remnant of darker times, to be sure), among other things one might find in one of one’s indoor junk drawers. (Yes, I said “drawers” because as much as you might deny it, I know you have more than one junk drawer in your home … everyone does.)

The final reason I like cleaning the garage is that I don’t have – nor do I need – hard and fast rules when I’m out there moving, re-arranging and getting rid of stuff. I just need the garage to be more spacious, orderly and a bit cleaner than it was when I started. And let me tell you, when you set C-plus standards like that for your work, success is imminent, and mighty gratifying.

So, to answer the first question above, I don’t know what makes one “good” at cleaning a garage, and I’m not sure there is an appropriate answer. As for question two (“Why do I care?”), well, I guess I’d answer it as follows: It’s a necessary chore, but one that doesn’t require a lot of thought or attention to detail (there are folks out there who may beg to differ, but I’m speaking for the general population), and when all is said and done, you can stand back, look at your work, and say, “(Insert your last name), you are one (expletive deleted) garage cleaner.”

And let me tell you, that feels pretty (expletive deleted) good.

© 2022 David R. Haznaw

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