By Pam Hersh
I am no Pollyanna, but I discovered several glass-is-half-full aspects of this COVID-19 pandemic. The very clean glass becomes even fuller when you factor in the acts of extraordinary heroism and generosity.
• Masks. I love masks. They are super anti-aging weapons (you have no wrinkles if you can’t see them), as well as weapons of mass protection. Masks protect the face from not only evil viruses, but also the insidious grass/dirt/mulch particles that blow into my face from the profoundly annoying and omnipresent dirt/mulch blowing machines around. Before masks, I would spend a good portion of my daily walk running away from the machines.
• Lawn signs. Lawn signs have become inspirational reading. This communications vehicle has evolved beyond the ho-hum election signs and has blossomed this spring into expressions of passionate support for all school graduates (kindergarten through college), for essential workers from health care providers to supermarket clerks, and for principles of social and racial justice.
• Cleaning. Cleaning, I discovered, is in fact next to godliness. It has evolved from a lowly nuisance chore to a revered, high-priority activity. COVID-19 upended my adherence to the six-second rule – drop the cookie on the floor and it is okay to eat if you pick it up within six seconds. The zero-second rule rules me these days. And I have adopted all the clean-freak rules of incessant wiping with disinfectant wipes, washing hands till chafed, and keeping little bottles of hand sanitizer tucked in my pocket instead of the no-longer-needed, anti-aging face cream.
These three COVID glass half-full elements came together the other day, when I, in my mask, actually talked to my apartment neighbor Joe Greene, instead of just racing by him as I did in pre-COVID times.
Joe, who lives across the hall from me is founding director of a Trenton-based commercial cleaning business called Quick Environmental that provides comprehensive environmental site remediation and assessment (mold, oil tanks, chemical spills etc.). Nowadays as retail stores and office-based businesses open up, the company is focused on COVID cleaning.
Apparently, the virus can survive on surfaces for up to 17 days.
“Before an area infected with coronavirus can be deemed safe, it will need to be completely remediated using extreme precaution and with the proper equipment. Quick Environmental’s professionals are highly trained and experienced in the safe and effective decontamination of coronavirus. Our COVID-19 disinfectant treatment uses a proprietary disinfectant approved by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),” said Joe.
His company employees land on a site and attack it with a vengeance to make sure that every nook and cranny is COVID-free. Before COVID I might have said, “whatever.” Post COVID, I am saying “awesome” and putting Joe’s employees in that category of super-essential workers.
Fifteen years ago, Joe, a former investment banker and financial consultant, went into his own business. He not only wanted to do his own thing, but also saw great potential in this essential yet sustainable business by being nimble, flexible, and responsive to society’s various environmental challenges. Also, Joe recognized the workforce potential in Trenton. He made it a priority to create jobs in Trenton that were local, secure, and represented a good future for the employees. He works with the community development non-profit Isles to build a workforce of highly trained employees who benefit themselves and the entire Trenton community.
Joe Greene, as the executive Mr. Clean, fessed up to being as personally committed to cleanliness as he is professionally. “My living space is very orderly and clean. I take off my shoes every time I enter my apartment,” Joe said.
But I say hats off to him and other employers (like the landscape companies even with those horrible machines) who are providing essential services by hiring local workers and treating them in a fair and dignified manner. We may need another lawn sign to honor the cleaners, the landscapers – and all those workers making the lawn signs.