I got my first up-close-and-personal look at the professional cleaning industry this past July at the International Society of Cleaning Technicians' convention in Clearwater, Fla. It was a lot of what I expected, and a little of what I hadn't. The people were intelligent, friendly and enthusiastic; this I expected. It was the education I received that caught me a bit by surprise.
The single thread that consistently weaves its way into my story planning during the last five months has been mold. Mold remediation. Mold litigation. Mold consternation. Mold abbreviation (initially Mo, but Larry and Curly wouldn't stand for it). From the headlines popping up in Texas and a few other states, it appears as though mold is the ultimate evil responsible for the destruction of all things insurable. There's just one problem.
I spent three days listening to restoration icons, cleaning specialists, even a former deputy director of the EPA talk about the problems professional cleaning technicians face on a daily basis. Mold is a serious problem, no one is saying anything to the contrary. What they are saying is that it's not a new one. The mold's always been there; it's only in the last few years that it's become a media darling. Mold mold mold mold mold. Mold can lead to health problems, and it sure creates headaches for homeowners and insurance companies alike, but proper treatment by a trained, competent professional can remedy the situation. Mold is the mallet you whack your thumb with.
Bacteria is the sledgehammer.
The three truths: (1) death; (2) taxes; and (3) headlines sell newspapers. Two different speakers wondered aloud why the public is so focused on the issue of mold when it's bacteria that can really ruin your day. There are a few theories that could be bantered about, but unsubstantiated speculation is something I reserve for fall weekends, e.g. why is the coach, his team up by 28, putting his starters back in halfway through the fourth quarter?
By the time you read this, I'll have traveled to and returned from Sacramento, Calif. for the CFI/PCUCA convention. I'm told this is the show that will give me my best look to date into the world of the carpet cleaning professional. I've got a pretty good idea as to what to expect.
I wonder what's going to surprise me.