Monday, February 27, 2017

Mop Men: Inside the World of Crime Scene Cleaners

Mop Men: Inside the World of Crime Scene Cleaners by Alan Emmins        306 pages              

Excellent book!   I literally couldn’t put it down once I started reading it.   Fascinating!    I had never really thought about crime scene cleaning as an occupation until once on the t.v. show, “Insomniac,” with Dave Atell as host, he rode along with a crime scene cleaner one night.     Interesting, I thought.   I never really considered that there was a business that actually did that.    I guess I thought outside crime scenes just got washed with fire hoses and people cleaned up their own in homes and hotel staff cleaned up in hotels.   It didn’t cross my mind particularly how blood and such got cleaned up.  Watching the staff work on cleaning up various scenes while kind of gross, yet, like one of those things you can’t seem to avert your eyes from I kept watching.    Hmmm.    Then when the independent film, “Sunshine Cleaning,” (Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin), came out in 2008 it’s topic was about a lady and her younger sister who need money and find out there is income to be made from cleaning up crime scenes they begin doing so and go from novices, tossing bloody mattresses in dumpsters while not wearing any protective gear to top level professionals complete with all the proper gear, chemicals, appropriate training and licenses.   A fun film choice by the way.   But the topic peaked my interest.   I even watched the film over a couple of times in the years since it came out.    However, when I was browsing through the library holdings online for another title I came across, “MopMen…” and had to stop and eyeball it.   When I saw what it was about well, I definetly wanted to see what was in those pages!   I was not disappointed.   Alan Emmins relates verbatim conversations with the owner of the Crime Scene Cleaners Co.,  Neal Smithers.   He lets Neal tell the story of how he decided to open such a business, what he had to learn in order to be the success he is and how he fended off naysayers in his family and friends who told him it would never work he would go bankrupt, etc.     But Neal had the fortitude to persevere and to this day is still doing everything he can to get his company’s name out there, he meets with people all the time pressing the flesh like a politician stumping for votes.   You really get a sense of what this guy is like and what his staff is like.    They are so thorough in their quest to clean every spot of any body fluid or crud that may be lurking at the job they are on.   They even remove floor boards to clean any possible seepage that may have taken place, then replace the floorboards and put sealant on the floor then once dry they sanitize it all again.   They go anywhere, attics, crawl spaces, homes, hotel rooms, wherever the job request takes them and clean not only crime scenes but also homes of hoarders, animal hoarders, animal infestations where there is urine and feces damage, they clean out hazardous material sites – whatever – Neal likes money and he will go wherever he and his team need to and clean up, clean out or clean off any thing folks can come up with.   He first goes out as owner to the client that has contacted him and as any contractor gives the client a price estimate and explains what all his staff will need to do to clean up and sanitize the area requiring his services.   He works for the famous, the infamous and anyone with a need.    He likens himself to “the Wolf,” played by Harvey Keitel in the film, “Pulp Fiction.”    Since he has been in business, some of the people who originally worked for him have either franchised their own branch of his business or have gone on their own and opened their own cleaning service and compete for the business in the state of California and in the other states he has franchises in.    Neal is a good talker though and does what he can to constantly promote his business.   Neal has a wicked sense of  humor and there are times when you will laugh out loud at things he says, sings or does.    An eye-opening read and a visit to a sector of society not much talked about but with all the CSI fans out there I don’t think I am the only one with morbid curiosity that will marvel at the things not thought of but that will be revealed to you in this read.   Excellent!   Made me go online to see if St. Louis has their own Crime Scene Cleaners.   We do, and more than one.   One of them is affiliated with Cory Chalmers, who is a regular on the A&E cable channel on “Hoarders.”     Maybe one of them is a franchise of Neal’s?   He was branching out and franchising to several states in the northwest and southwest (Neal lives in Los Angeles, CA).    His goal was to be in every state so it is quite possible.     I invited Alan Emmins to come do a sequel in St. Louis.

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