By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
I have never been one to sweep things under the rug, mainly because I don’t wear one. And I have never been on a magic carpet ride, mainly because all of our carpets are nailed to the floor. But I was floored recently to hear a carpet cleaner come clean about his crazy carpet capers.
Dan Gallagher was hired by my wife, Sue, to clean some of our carpets because they were embedded with dirt, hair and suspicious substances that I blamed on our cats.
“Your carpets aren’t that bad,” Gallagher said. “The job looks pretty easy, which is more than I can say for some other places I’ve been to.”
Like the house that burned to the ground.
“I was outside taking a break when I saw smoke coming up from the back,” Gallagher recalled. “Then I saw flames shooting from the roof. I rushed back inside and said to the homeowner, ‘Lady, your house is on fire.’ This angry look came over her face. I had already been there a couple of hours and she was still mad at me because I showed up late. I had other appointments and couldn’t help it, but she didn’t care.”
As the fire raged, Gallagher asked the woman if there were any kids or pets in the house.
“She had three dogs and three or four cats that shed all over the carpets and the furniture, which is why she called me in the first place,” Gallagher said. “I was like Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, rescuing these animals. One of the dogs tried to bite me. I had to coax another one out with dog treats.”
The whole time, Gallagher said, the woman wouldn’t help him.
“Then this guy came out of nowhere -- I don’t know if he was a neighbor or what -- and tried to put out the fire with a garden hose,” Gallagher remembered. “I said, ‘Dude, that’s not going to do any good.’ So he disappeared. Then the fire department came. They put out the fire but couldn’t save the house.”
When it was all over, the woman reluctantly paid Gallagher for the part of the job he had completed. “I saved her and all her pets,” he said, “and she didn’t even tip me.”
Neither did the 12-year-old boy whose mother went out and left Gallagher in charge of her 14 other kids while he cleaned the carpets.
“This woman had 15 children that ranged in age from 3 to 12,” Gallagher said. “And she left me with all of them. There were diapers all over the floor. And one of the fuses blew -- it was an old house -- so I had to unplug the TV to plug my machine into that outlet. The kids had been watching ‘Dora the Explorer.’ They were screaming, ‘What happened to Dora?’ I called the mother on her cell phone -- I don’t know where she was -- and she was yelling at me. She had some nerve. Worst of all, she never came back.”
When Gallagher was done, the 12-year-old boy paid him. No tip this time, either. As Gallagher was leaving, the 3-year-old girl said, “Aren’t you going to turn the TV back on?”
There have been lots of other kooky customers, like the woman who was growing marijuana in her basement (“It’s a good thing that house didn’t catch fire,” Gallagher said), so Sue and I ranked among the more normal ones.
Gallagher said he would rank himself and his wife as pretty normal, too. They have two dogs, a 7-year-old Labrador retriever and a 1-year-old German shepherd-greyhound mix.
“Must be tough to keep the carpets clean,” I said.
“Not at all,” Gallagher replied.
“Why, because you have an industrial machine?” I asked.
“Even better,” he said. “We have hardwood floors.”
Copyright 2011 by Jerry Zezima