Thursday, May 19, 2011

Living With Mr. Niceguy

My partner, Leon is self-employed.  He has a cleaning business and specializes in heavy duty residential cleaning - window washing, house/deck power washing, gutter cleaning, carpet and upholstery cleaning and even cleaning up houses occupied by hoarders.

His clientele are households in some of the more affluent towns and neighborhoods around here.  Women whose shoes cost twice what he earns in a week (no kidding, he saw the price tags on the boxes), men who leave their bank statements on the desk he has to move to clean the window - showing monthly interest that exceeds his or my salary for a year.

Fortunately these customers' homes have 97 windows with storms, 11 skylights and 16 French doors.  So their bills can be substantial.

But Leon is Mr. Niceguy.  He will put in or take out (depending on the season) the window air conditioner for the ninety year-old widow who lives in a small apartment.  He will move furniture, fix a broken window pulley, power wash a brick sidewalk while doing the house just because he thinks it needs it, think to buy a trinket for a good customer while on vacation, and give a discount to "family".  Just to mention a few things.

I can live with that kind of generosity.  It is one of the things I love about him.

But sometimes his generosity goes too far.  He'll come home after a full day at one of these little mansions that is going on the market because the couple is moving to Manhattan, and say "Am I exhausted.  That job was a real nightmare.  They hadn't washed their windows for over ten years, they were actually falling apart in places and I had to fix what I could just to wash them, not to mention the vines that were taking over the house and covering the windows - that had to be hacked out before I could even start.  That was at least a $1,500 job, if not more."

Dare I ask how much he charged?  I dare ask.  "Oh, Six-fifty.  They were nice."

"Well," I remind him, "have you seen Selling New York?  What were you thinking?  That's why we live by the seat of our pants and they now have an apartment in Manhattan."

"I like to give people a break." Then he adds, jokingly, "I'll probably go to heaven, you know."

I can only respond, "Yeah, you'll go to heaven all right and they'll have 18 gazillion windows there - and they'll have you washing them for eternity!"


  1. Leon sounds he's got the whole karma thing figured out.

    The part about getting more monthly interest than you earn in a whole year shocked me to tears.

  2. That Nice Guy gig is a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it. Better that it's Leon. He's already got the truck and all the equipment... for dirty jobs. You have my sympathy (and, at the same time, you know you're a very lucky guy).

  3. It's exactly because he does these generous things that you love him though, right? He sounds like a lovely guy.

  4. How much better this world would be if everyone had a little bit of your partner in them...just a little would go a long way.


    thanks for the comment on my blog.

  5. All right you guys, Leon is becoming just a bit too pleased with himself reading your comments.

    I was expecting comments like: "charge them rich bastards good, they can afford to pay!" I'm the evil half.

  6. Interesting. For years I charged $25 an hour when I did consulting. Then one day I had someone pay me $100 for a half hours work.

    From then on the rate went to $80 per hour. I like that so much better.

    Of course now I'm regularly employed again. So no $80 per hour there.

  7. Leon is a sweetheart. At least he's not ripping people off - you wouldn't love him nearly so much in that case, I don't think.

    But tell him Russ says he owes it to you to raise his rates for those who can so easily afford it. And don't cook so good till he does . . . .


  8. Good plan. Why didn't I think of that?



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