7 May

As spring cleaning is in full swing, it seemed like a good time to tell you about the most fun volunteer cleaning job I ever had.

Not to be confused with the worst volunteer cleaning job I ever had. Which involved about 4 dozen empty-and-needing-to-be-refilled condiment bottles after a church-wide picnic at the huge church I attended in college. I was assigned to refill
the mustard bottles.

And I hate mustard.

But this particular job, done approximately 8 years earlier in my life, and which may seem like a job more fitting for the “worst volunteer job ever” title, was, actually, far more fun. Especially since I was about 14 and was doing it with a good friend.

My friend, Anne (who happened to be the pastor’s daughter), and I, were assigned to clean out the church steeple at Orcas Island Community Church, the church I grew up attending on Orcas Island, Washington.

Orcas Island Community Church: and its fun-filled steeple.

Orcas Island Community Church: and its fun-filled steeple.

It was a church clean-up day. Anne and I came mostly, I’m sure, because we wanted to hang out together, not necessarily because we felt called to serve. I mean, service was fine and all, but it was way more fun when done with a friend. I suppose, really, it still is.

I don’t know who was inspired to assign two young teens to this job, but whoever he or she was, must have been a genius. I remember hauling the huge wet/dry vacuum up two flights of stairs to the steeple door. I’d been in the tiny storage room at the bottom of the steeple before – let’s face it, I’d been in every nook and cranny of the church, including the baptismal pool – but I had never been UP the ladder that was found at the back of the wee room.

But now the way was open and I was thrilled. I don’t know how we got that vacuum up the ladder – I suppose that someone must have helped us – all I remember as we got to the top and stood INSIDE the steeple’s apex – were the flies.

All dead. And about two inches deep.

Crunch. Crunch, crunch. CRUNCH. With every step. Everytime we moved. Everywhere we looked. Dead flies.

Remember: I was 14…and not particularly squeamish.


It was not a long job, but we took as long with it as we could. We vacuumed. We pretended to be grossed out. We vacuumed some more. We peered out the slats of the steeple and yelled down to our friend in the parking lot below. He never did figure out where those voices calling his name were coming from. (Hopefully we didn’t drive him insane thinking that he was hearing voices inside his head.)

I love when church gives kids opportunities to serve. Especially when those jobs are age-appropriate. Somehow vacuuming up dead flies has never been as much fun since. Not sure why…


6 Responses to “CRUNCH”

  1. Anne May 7, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    When I saw the picture of the church and the words “spring cleaning”, it all came back. Yes, I remember that cool job!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 7, 2013 at 8:36 am #

      🙂 Perfect for a couple of young teenagers! So glad you were with me!

  2. hotlyspiced May 7, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    It sounds like you made a great day of a boring, mundane job. And I agree, it’s good for teenagers to learn how to serve xx

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 7, 2013 at 8:37 am #

      I definitely know some kids who need to learn that lesson. And yes, might as well make gross stuff fun!

  3. treadlemusic May 7, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    That kind of thing doesn’t gross me out it is just tiresome (around a century old farmhouse like the one we live in!!). Vacuums (full size or hand-held) are a human’s best friend when there are such critters (and let’s not forget Asian Beetles and Boxelder Bugs!!! Ugh!) roam at large inside aforementioned walls!! Great post!!! Hugs……

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 7, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

      I know – those boxelder bugs were terrible last fall, and they woke up a few weeks ago too, though now they seem to be at least staying outside. The Asian Beetles weren’t bad here last year, but I am sure they’ll be back. Bother. Stinky, nasty things.

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