Every time I see someone using one of those big floor buffers I’m taken back to my college days. I paid for my university expenses by working whatever jobs I could find. I tended bar at the dean’s cocktail parties (best money I ever made as a student!). I cleaned offices and a tire store’s garage. I was a clerk in a liquor store. But the one job with The Buffer was cleaning the apartments for married students.
These apartments were dinky little one-bedroom things. My wife and I got one after being on a waiting list for almost a year. The kitchen was so small I could reach out my arms and touch the opposing walls. If it got too cold in the morning we’d toast some bread. The toaster would heat up the living room quite nicely. And the rent was really, really cheap!
But I digress…
Jobs were pretty hard to find in college towns. Most students need one and have to compete with the locals. When I finally got an interview for the cleaning job I was thrilled. It paid better than most because it was a university job, and the hours were very flexible.
When the supervisor asked me if I had ever used a floor buffer before. “Oh, yeah, “I lied. “I worked for a janitorial company in high school.”
I actually did work for one in high school, but it was owned and operated by one guy. He picked up a new account cleaning a real estate office and needed help. The office was mostly carpeted with a little restroom about 3 feet square. That was the extent of my buffing experience. And it certainly did not require The Buffer.
So I got the job! Yeehaw! Something other than a 10-boxes-for-a-dollar cardboard box of macaroni and cheese for dinner.
On my first day, my super took me into one of the apartments that had recently been vacated. These places had a very high turn-over with students coming and going. He showed me all the places to clean and what was expected. These places were spotless when a new couple moved in.
The entire apartment floor was linoleum tile. The floors had to be stripped, waxed and buffed, all using The Buffer. I had never seen one up close before. This thing was HUGE! It must have been 4 feet across… maybe more. The super told me to get started on the floor and he’d start on the refrigerator which was fine by me. I’ve seen apartment refrigerators and they are usually filled with science projects from the 50’s.
I figured out how to get the pad on the disk and plugged The Buffer’s electrical cord into an outlet. How hard could this be? I thought. The on-off switch was a couple things that looked like bicycle brake handles, one on each side of the horizontal handle…one for each hand for safety purposes I suppose. Don’t want to start The Buffer spinning if you don’t have both hands on the wheel.
I got behind The Buffer and took a solid stance. I was ready for anything. I was The Buffer Guy! I gently squeezed the switch handles. There was a click and the disk started spinning faster than a radiator fan on 1950 Chevy Nova. I know because that was my college car. I picked up that 20-year old for $50 bucks.
The machine just stood there and hummed. I could feel the power of it deep in my bones.
“Move, doggone it!” I tried pushing it to the left. Suddenly, it went crazy! It started spinning around with me as the center hub. I couldn’t stop it! The electrical cord started wrapping around my legs, getting shorter and shorter. I was spinning like a pinwheel. I lost my balance, and, Bam! I was slammed into the wall. I staggered a couple feet, and then Bam! slammed into another wall.
My super came running out. “Make it stop! PLEASE!” I cried out. He pulled out the plug and The Beast came to an instant stop.
I was going to be fired as soon as he stop laughing. I just knew it.
“I thought you (ha ha ha) said you knew how (ha ha ha) to work a buffer,” he said shaking his head, still giggling. I wondered if he’d pass out before he could fire me.
“I really need this job.”, I mumbled, rubbing my bruised-up elbow.
“All you do is tilt it forward and it turns one way. Tilt it back and it turns the other way. I’ll let you figure out which is which, and don’t punch any holes in the walls while you’re learning.”
The Buffer and I polished many an apartment floor that year. I really was The Buffer Guy.