There was one route in the branch that just EVERYBODY envied, coveted and would give their eye teeth to have…the commercial route. First off the truck was the coolest set up in our little fleet. Truck bed length fiberglass tool box with all the latest gadgets of the trade tucked away inside.
(no ladder though, hmmmm) They did bird control, prisons, hospitals, factories and all the cool jobs. Plus, he always seemed to get done around noon or 1 but made more money or so was the rumor so hey, what’s not to like?!! On top of all this, the commercial tech didn’t have to make any scheduling calls. That in itself was worth $1000 dollars!
Well, it just so happened that this diamond of a route was becoming available and of course, every tech put in his request. Now I was the lowest or next to lowest man on the totem pole so I didn’t even bother- actually I didn’t even have to. Much to my new branch managers chagrin, I was called in his office and our corporate commercial director was sitting there along with Mr. Cobb. The route was mine if I wanted to take it. My branch boss tried gingerly to talk me out of it telling me I was still only half done with my new routes repair and that he planned for me to do that same thing with every other route as well… oh my… great incentive there! He of course planned on compensating me for my efforts but that was the first I ever heard of it. It was a weak attempt because both of the higher ups were steadfast and made the special trip to our branch just to make this happen. They all agreed (except my mgr.) that I was perfect for the job. That friday, after one week of training from the out going tech, I handed the keys to my old ride to a new tech and I drove home in my new chariot of fiberglass.
While I figured my colleagues would sort have been a bit miffed that the new kid on the block took the prized route, they never were. Maybe they knew something I didn’t? Nah- they were truly great guys and most went on to be salesman which is what I think were their goals anyway and where I’d eventually catch up with them. (But that’s another chapter and I don’t want to get ahead of myself.)
The commercial route was very diverse and I’d see everything from a small deli to a 5 story (3 stories underground) meat packing plant– all in one day. It was a jam packed and hustle job but honestly, so was my residential route, but with the commercial route I might spend an hour or two at one location. That’s something I wasn’t use to. The only drawback to this coveted route was that there were so many early morning stops. On average I was at my first account by 4 am every morning. If there was an hours drive then that meant I was on the road very very early. Being young and dumb, I usually stayed up late anyways dancing the night away and probably looked like hell at my first stop or two. Still, I was off by 1ish and so a quick nap & I was ready to go again. Plus, since I didn’t have to make any calls and this gave me an extra hour plus per day which was such a relief. But man, what great experience. I learned quite a bit on the commercial side of things. Bird control was some of my favorite and it took me to roof top vistas all over the county. Prisons, factories, high rises you name it. The other thing I noticed, I was able to ask for and receive almost anything I wanted. (except a ladder) Traps of all kinds, specialty sprayers, etc. and the commercial route was where I first wore a service belt with a system lll. You talk about looking like a pro technician! Still wear that belt to this day. It’s also where I got to help the service manager in the chemical room do things like mix up Rozol oils (google it) with bird seed in a big cement mixer to make our own irresistible mouse baits. We got gallons of glue-yep glue! In paint type buckets and I learned the fine art of making my own custom glue boards for some of the more challenging areas I was now experiencing on the commercial route. Since I was off early I often helped him unload the delivery trucks and we’d roll barrel after barrel of Chlordane, Dursban, Diazonon and other of today’s most taboo products–(I was amazed at how much product we actually used)– off the truck and into its place, pallets of aerosols, Ketch-alls stacked to the ceiling and assorted other goodies. This was the first time I knew there was much more than a B&G for application and I loved all this ‘new’ technology. When I saw something I thought might be good for my route he’d always enthusiastically say “take as many as you need, let me know how it worked.”
I’ll be honest, I shouldn’t have left that position when I did, the support was amazing and the level it seemed to put me on company wise was one of respect yet without all the hassles. Besides the occasional “pffffttt” look I got as I walked passed the branch managers open door, (you never looked in the window or through glass door when it was closed- usually a stern look back) I was almost left entirely alone. Now to be fair- my newest branch boss was a nice guy and an effective manager. He reminded me of my Jr. high football coach who nothing was good enough for that you did and he’d let you know about it in no uncertain terms when you didn’t live up to that mark and, while you felt like crap…, it was for your own good. So you understood it. Still, that said-there are times when that’s more destructive than good and if that strategy is used without some empathy, you will get the complete opposite results. (I think you’ll see that soon)
So there I was, a little rocket ship being pretty darn successful in my service world and just having the time of my life. Seeing amazing things, cutting edge technology in the places I serviced, amazing engineering in creating every day products and loving the freedom & prestige that this new route gave to me. Yet, a wind was blowing, softly and I hardly noticed. Changes were coming…again ;(