The day starts like any other, the break of dawn has barely cracked the eastern sky but Robert has already risen and gently taps the button on top of the alarm clock hoping to let his wife sleep in. It doesn’t work. His bride of 30 years stirs and reaches across the ruffled blankets only to find an empty pillow. Captured by the moment he can’t help but stare and a broad smile cracks across his weathered face. He leans over, kisses her and whispers, “sleep for a while, I’ll be back before I go.” The cold floor is a stark reminder that another day has begun and no matter what he’s accomplished, there will be no favors extended to him this day, no easy path for him to take.
The smell of fresh coffee awaits Robert as he makes his way downstairs and his cold lunch sits perched on the refrigerator shelf with a note the says, I love you, Thanks for working so hard.
He takes a sip as he gazes out the kitchen window. The morning dew blankets the ground and he can hear the song of early morning birds welcoming in the new day. Across the drive his truck shimmers in the mix of the fading moon and breaking dawn. By now his mind has caught up to the speed of which this day will demand. He tries not to think of the few accounts that he’s dreading today and almost–almost finds himself wishing he hadn’t agreed to scheduling the new start at to end his day at 4:30.
It’s 6 am on any given day, the beginning of yet another day that has been like so many over the past twenty five years. This is a day in the life of a single operator.
The truck has warmed up nicely and his now fully awake wife pecks him on the cheek and waves goodbye standing in the back door in her fuzzy yellow robe. He turns and strides to his mobile office knowing full well her day will be filled with many of the same challenges he will face. He knows each stop on his route sheet and the effort he’ll need to expend to get it all done, he glances hopefully once again and tells himself, “this won’t be so bad, I may just end up this day early.” It’s wishful thinking to say the least. That said he’s at least thankful he doesn’t have to answer the phone all day and deal with the many odd conversations and insane requests that will no doubt reach his wife’s ears. He hits the road.
The first stop offers no excuse, no chance to just coast through the service and it demands his full attention. His worn knee pads and inflamed elbow won’t be a deterrent at this account. How can they be? He knows they’ll be tested, it’s not a surprise. As his thigmotropic tendencies kick in Robert twists his fragile back to the only position that will take his eyes to his target area. “Ahhhhh, little suckers thought they could hide from me did they?” He struggles to stand erect and chuckles at the thought of how many “young bucks” he’s tried to train to just accomplish this simple task. That thought is quickly swallowed up as he surveys the rest of this huge restaurant that needs the same attention.
11 o’clock and Robert has already accomplished more work than most ‘route guys do in a day. He’s on food establishment number 4 and the energy he’ll need for this account is no less. But it’s at this time that Robert feels his best, he’s hit his stride and gone is the pain of his creaky elbow and his knee pads have long since settled into their groove like a fine glove.
As his day switches to other accounts Robs level of service does not decline. The demands of the commercial client is one thing but the expectations of the residential are no less daunting. Attics for invisible noises, belly crawling under the home just to follow a disappearing trail of ants and the never ending smile he displays while listening to the over energetic housewife explain ad nauseam her sighting of every bug she’s seen since his last visit. All with a smile and a cool demeanor, Robert handles each of his customers with the same professionalism and warmth that’s gotten him to this place in his career over the years. It’s a thing of beauty.
It’s 3 pm and Roberts handled 10 accounts with 3 more to go. Thrown into the mix are the calls from his lovely wife for the things she just can’t handle. Oh, she can handle them just fine by the way, it’s just the clients who need to hear the SAME EXACT answers from his lips or they’ll never be satisfied. She hates to call, she apologizes with each text but they both know that no answer is a good answer unless it comes from “the man” himself. Years ago this plagued this dynamic team and caused many a heated discussion or two. But now they both know this is just part of the game, part of the price, and it’s no longer even barely a mention at the dinner table.
4:30 pm and his truck pulls into the drive of the days best paying job. Initial services take a toll on most any tech and Robert summons up his energy as best he can. The problem doesn’t matter, the conditions rarely take him by surprise. He’s come to the end of another long and arduous day and this one last stop will most likely sap him of everything he’s got. But… it’s what he’s been doing for years, it’s what he’s accustomed too, he’ll smile bravely and give it all he’s got just as if this panicked and waiting housewife was his first call of the day.
It’s not that Rob is some super human mind you…. well, not entirely. He’s been at his craft for many many years and operating at this high level has become almost second nature, close to being robotic. Robert finishes just as the sun is disappearing low into the western sky. He points his truck towards home, the low melodic tones from his radio begin to settle him into the end of what’s been just another normal day……. that’s when his cell phone rings interrupting his slow transfer into what he thought was to good to be true. His beautiful bride is on the other end….one more service that just can’t wait, one more client who cannot take no for an answer. One more reason that Roberts day……is unfinished.
Thank you- to ALL the Roberts out there. May we strive to be worthy of your grand jour.