Thursday, July 16, 2015

Heat and a campaign trail story

There's no getting around it - summer has arrived in Oklahoma. We've really been fortunate so far this year, as temperatures haven't been all that unbearable. Until this past week. It's been pretty miserable the last few days, with heat indices between 105°F and 110°F.

I clean carpets for a living. Heat is something that just comes with the job. For one, our truckmount machine heats the cleaning solution to between 210°F and 230°F. That's more than scalding hot (as both my dad and I have found out on different occasions). That liquid then moves through a high-pressure solution hose to the cleaning wand, where it sprays out in the cleaning process. Needless to say, the solution hose gets pretty hot. Your hands get accustomed to the temperature after time, but only to a certain degree (pun intended).

Heat comes with the job in other ways. For example, the air conditioner had been stolen out of one of the houses I cleaned this morning. It felt like a sauna inside, especially when I added some more humidity to the atmosphere during the cleaning process. It was already 90-some-degrees outside, with a heat index near 100°F. The van I work out of is not compartmentalized, so the machine is open to the rest of the vehicle inside. When I finished the job and headed to the next, it had "cooled down" inside the van to 110°F, with a heat index of 130°F (I took a temperature/humidity reading). It was a fun drive for the thirty minutes it took for the air conditioning to finally win the temperature battle.

Anyway, as I was melting in the heat today, it reminded me of a funny story about politics.

Back in 2010, I did some work on Josh Brecheen's insurgent campaign for State Senate District 6. I'd spend three days a week down in the Durant area, knocking doors, putting up signs, and accompanying Josh on the campaign trail, among other things. My standard campaign "uniform" was a black "I'm with Josh" shirt, shorts, and a good pair of tennis shoes.

One particular stop will always stick in my mind.

First of all, Josh is a rancher from the top of his hat to the bottom of his boots, and was running for office in a agriculturally-heavy rural district. Farmers and ranchers were a natural fit for him, and overwhelmingly supported Brecheen's candidacy.

On this one day, while with Josh on the road, we pulled into a feed store parking lot. Josh had a handful of fliers in hand, and got out to do a little campaigning. As was the usual drill, I started to hop out of the truck with Josh. Before I could get out, though, Josh somewhat hesitatingly stopped me.

The issue was my shorts. Josh was a rancher, dressed like one, and fit in with the feed store crowd. Me? I looked like a city slicker who didn't belong in a feed store. For the sake of the campaign, me and my shorts stayed in the pickup while Josh went and won some more votes, unencumbered by the "short pants" that could have been a distraction for the old-timers inside the store.

After that day, I wore jeans on the campaign trail. No shorts.

In fact, Josh Brecheen is to blame for part of why I get hot while working. I got so used to wearing jeans during that campaign, that I quit wearing shorts on carpet cleaning jobs. Ever since then, while working I've worn jeans exclusively. For the first 20 years of my life, I wore shorts frequently. Since then? Not so much.

It's not a bad thing. Jeans do give a more professional presentation than shorts, both on the campaign trail and as a service technician. It's just not the most comfortable on hot days! ;-)

So, for both the good and the bad, I owe Josh Brecheen a big "thank you"!


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