A panic call came in from Jan, she and her husband Ted lived in a prestigious neighborhood in the south hills of Eugene. They were new to the area; having purchased their house the summer before. It was now winter and they had ants, lots of ants in the kitchen. She wanted them gone and gone NOW!
What I was discovered was truly amazing, and even a bit bizarre….
I told her I would be there at 9:00am the next morning, she said no, please be here at 8:00am…not a problem arriving earlier.
It was cold outside; the kind of day that would chill you to the bone. No snow yet just plenty of ice, so much so the key would not go into the car door lock, it had a thick layer of ice covering it. At least that part was an easy fix; WD40 to rescue. It took several two second blasts to thaw the lock enough so I could insert the key.
Since there was a considerable amount of ice on the windows, I had to let the car warm up for almost 15 minutes before it was soft enough to scrape all the windows clean. The outside temperature was a chilling 10 degrees.
When I arrived at Ted and Jan’s home, I was warmly greeted and then escorted to the kitchen; sure enough, there was an abundance of ants on her kitchen counter, and they were headed toward her freshly baked Christmas cookies.
Why would anyone have an ant problem in the dead of winter you may wonder? What many fail to realize, while it is freezing cold outside it is springtime inside our homes…and so it was for my new customers Ted and Jan. This is the perfect environment for the ants to survive until spring.
Their intent was to take Jan’s cookies; all of them! However, I had the perfect solution to this particular problem that was safe and effective. As I talked to them, I explained the procedure and materials I would use to solve their pest problem. We talked about and I addressed their concerns about safety…then they asked if I would be treating the outside of the house as well. So I explained that ants have a waxy film on their bodies…with the temperature outside drops below 40 degrees the wax on their bodies would start to harden making it impossible for them to move. As a result, this time of year ants are only found inside where the environment is more spring like.
Within a short period of time, after my treatment the ants were gone, problem solved…but another one appeared that was unrelated and of an unexpected nature.
The kitchen was adjacent to the dining room; looking across the table and through the sliding glass doors I could see, among other things, their hot tub….now why that was important you will soon read. Their response to my question surprised and even amazed me…
First of all, you need to know that Ted and Jan proved to be awesome customers. He held the position of Senior Vice-President for one of the local multinational companies. He, as well as his job was very impressive. Jan too was well educated and very intelligent She was a regional manager of a major food outlet. They were both very kind hearted and very easy to talk to. They treated me with dignity and respect, which frankly was a bit unusual, most well educated individuals talked down to me; very few would actually talk to me. This was not a problem; it was simply how most well educated people viewed the pest control industry. Who could blame them, many of the technicians I knew had bad hygiene practices, and they looked bad and smelled worse; no wonder the pests died when they entered the house …
Back to the story; knowing they both had very stressful jobs I mentioned how nice must be to come home after a hard day and relax in the hot tub….
To my surprise, Ted emphatically said NO! The water is too cold in the winter. He told me they only used the hot tub during the summer months when the sun would warm the water. Not sure, I understood correctly I asked him if the internal heater to the hot tub was broken….what heater he replied! To my amazement, neither Ted nor Jan had any idea that the water could be heated.
WOW! That was almost unbelievable that such intelligent people could lack basic common sense…a hot tub means HOT water in the tub. It would have been very insensitive of me to point out their stupidity; instead, I ask Ted if we could go out and check, the tub to be sure the heater was functioning…sure enough the power switch was turned off. With a flip of the switch, both the pump and heater suddenly, and rather loudly, came alive. The sound of the pump almost startled him. With a bit of fussing, and a little guidance, he set the thermostat to 100 degrees…now that should warm their chilled and stressed bones on a cold wintry evening.
Ted thanked me for the help as we walked to the front door. I noticed the doorknob was extremely loose. Ted mentioned that the handy man was coming out in a couple of days and was going to repair it for them. He seem pleased that it was only going to cost $40.00. As we talked I took out my Leatherman tool, opened the Phillips screwdriver, tighten the two screws that held the door knob plate in place…problem solved. Ted smiled and gave me the strangest look as I told him he could cancel the handyman, and with the money he saved he and Jan could enjoy an evening meal at a restaurant.
The following month I returned to their home to do a follow up treatment. Ted immediately greeted me and told me how much they have been enjoying their hot tub, they even invited the neighbors over several times to enjoy it with them.
As I looked through the sliding glass doors I could see it bubbling and steaming…it was 20 degrees outside and they did not have a cover for the tub. Probably cost them $300.00 for the wasted electricity by not covering it…decided I probably had already said enough so I did not mention the cover. I figured that they would eventually determine that it needed one…sure enough, the next month there was a brand new cover in place, amazing!
Make no mistake about, Ted was a very intelligent young man. I would not want to meet him in a boardroom in an adversarial position; he would chew me up and spit me out with his cunning and skill. However, common sense seemed to be his weakness. He was just ill equipped to work with his hands performing the simplest maintenance tasks…kept the handyman busy on a regular basis.
Sometimes an act of kindness simply means not making fun of someone’s faults, but rather helping them to work around them in a positive way that makes them feel good about themselves; rather than feeling stupid and embarrassed,….besides it is always nice to see a customer smile with what they perceive as a major discovery and victory.
Ted and Jan were great customers for a little more than a year. The company he worked for, recognizing his skills, promoted him to a higher position within the corporation. Unfortunately, his new job required that they both move to Seattle, Washington. So ended another chapter in my book of life…and it ended with a smile.