My young friend, C, has been watching me clean his chimney for 7 or 8 years now.

When he was 6, I told him, “C, if it’s okay with your mom and dad, when you are 10 I’ll teach you how to clean the chimney.”

Last year, he turned 10, but when I cleaned the chimney, they had had to go somewhere, so I couldn’t teach him.

This year, his mom sent me a text: “Time to clean the chimney.”

I told her the day and the time I would come.

“Thank you for answering! Yes, Monday at 9 works great! C is 11 and is remembering that you told him that you’d teach him. Are you truly ok with that? If so, what kink of shoes should he wear?”

They have a metal roof, and the initial step onto the roof always makes me a little bit nervous.

“Slip resistant soles,” I answered.

When I arrived at the house, my mind had gone through all the scenarios of C slipping and sliding off the roof.

His younger brother, W, met me at the truck.

“Mr. Randy, can I help you carry some stuff in?”

I loaded him down.

Then C came out, wearing his brand new work boots.

“I tested them against several others, and I think these would be the best.”

I wasn’t sure.

I handed him some stuff to carry in.

I said hi to mom, chatted a bit.

“C, forgot that you had told him that you would teach him. I had to remind him, “ she told me.

I walked around the house, found a much safer ascent location, where, even if he (or I) slipped, we wouldn’t leave the roof.

Now, I could teach him.

I showed him, once at the roof line, how to safely step onto the roof.

He followed me up the ladder, followed my directions perfectly, took a few steps, then scooted the rest of the way to the top on his butt.

“My shoes feel like they are slipping a little bit, but they are slipping real slow, so it’s okay.”

I smiled. “You’re doing great!”

When he got too the top, he looked around. “THIS IS SO COOL! I’ve never been on the roof before! THIS IS SO COOL!”

I was removing the cap of the chimney, carefully explaining every step. He was watching every move, commenting and questioning to show that he understood.

Now, I scooted off to the side, handed him the first rod with a brush, and said, “Now, stick that brush down the chimney, move it up and down about 8 times, move your hand up a section, 8 times up and down.”

I watched him count the strokes.

“This way, we clean every section on the chimney, all the way down. Now, take this next rod, screw it to the other, and do the same thing again. Then this rod, and this rod.”

He followed all instructions, finished sweeping the flue, disconnected all the rods. I put the cover back on the chimney.

“I am a little bit nervous about going down, though,” C said. I love his honesty.

I could tell he was nervous about going up, but he did it.

That is courage.

“I understand,” I said, “that is hard for a lot of grown men. I will show you how. You’ve got nothing to worry about…you did great on the chimney, by the way.”

W was sitting on the rail of the deck, watching every move. “Mr. Randy, in two years will you teach me how to clean a chimney?’

“W, are you nine?”

“No, I’m 8. You told C that you would teach him when he was 10…I’ll be 10 in two years.” Smiling….

“Okay, W, I guess I will.”

“Now, C, put your left foot against my foot,” (I braced it at the edge of the roof) “take my hand with your left hand, stand up and place your right foot on the second rung of the ladder.”

Done… and done. C was safely on the ground.

Future competitor in the chimney cleaning business?

Maybe so…maybe so.


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