Mike Walton (blackeagle)

Clean Inside Out

By: Posted On: 2020-04-06

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(From "Patches and Pins..." by Mike Walton (c) 1994. )

When I was growing up in Rose Terrace, just about everyone did car washes to raise money for some organization or another. A car wash was cheap to run....get some detergent, some sponges and old shirts, towels and some dishwashing liquid. And lots of water. Go out someplace hopefully on a sunny, clear day, set up the signage, and you're in business!

Not a lot of people spend time like they used to washing their cars. It used to be a Saturday morning or afternoon ritual....but then, that's why we made a killing doing those car washes!

This does not speak highly for all of us Americans, for this has been our attitude as we enter the nineties: we would rather have others to do our cleaning for us instead of us doing it ourselves. As a Scout, we need to be aware that such an attitude exists and must work hard within ourselves and others to dispel the idea that "someone else is responsible for the cleanup"... we must "clean as we go".

This means when we go someplace, we don't leave paper around for someone else to pick up after we have left. We don't leave cola cans on the ground or." a table because "that's their job...to clean up after us". We don't dispose of our waste in places other than those designed for our usage as such. This is all common-sense stuff, things we perhaps learned as young children but somehow once we got older, we have forgotten.

My father had some really great advice about cleaning cars...or anything for that matter. He should know because before he was married to my mother, he was responsible for cleaning barns and making them suitable for horses and other animals. That was his job, and he did his job extremely well. He passed on his cleaning techniques to his children and soldiers as a "Drill Sergeant." He followed it himself.

Robert Walton would say, "You clean inside out. You start with the hard stuff inside the building, and you get that all clean. Then, you get the outside looking nice and clean. People notice the outside, and that's easiest to clean....but they go inside the car, inside the house or building and that's where they stay for a while. So while you make sure that the outside is clean, you make double sure that the inside is cleaner."

He was right. When inspecting a building, a weapon, or even a Soldier, the inspector spends a little time looking at the exterior. He or she spends more time looking inside, finding things that somehow the emphasis was missed upon. He asks questions of the Soldier, finding out what he or she doesn't know or is not aware of.

While working as a Paraprofessional, I went deep into the mountains of eastern Kentucky, western West Virginia, northeastern Tennessee, and the tip of the west of Virginia to do much of my work. I saw some of the most run-down shacks, barns, and buildings whichever were built. My (first) wife lived in one of those shacks, which rested at the bottom of a hill back within a valley. Looking at the outside of the building, one would never think that the owners had lots of money. It was run-down but neat. Clean as it could be and yet showed years of wear and tear. Inside, the home was as neat and clean as my own mother's and father's brick home across the state. Everything was put away.

There was not a single "dirty spot" anywhere in the home. The kitchen's flooring, while yellowed with age, was so clean it almost glistened. Millie's mother Elsie, a redheaded woman, suffering from the effects of "sugar," ensured that even the coffeepot where the instant coffee was heated from was clean. The Vires had money....money earned from years of tobacco and corn farming. When they sold the farm, they also sold much of their livelihood so that they could live a little better up the road a bit. They bought a little land, a smaller home. James Vires worked hard to build that shack into a home fit for any American to live within. He was proud of his new place -- and so was his family.  

"Inside Out" has another deeper meaning, and I would find out later. My father never used profanity inside his home, and forbid anyone else in his family from doing the same thing. He also emphasized that anyone coming into his home doesn't "speak trash." There was something strong about my father's ability to tell people exactly what he meant without a lot of cussing. This was hammered home to me when I observed first-hand my father's performance as a Drill Instructor—a Drill Sergeant.

You know, the yelling, screaming, "get down and give me 20", the "hup-two-three-four," guy that tells new soldiers -- trainees, like his own son -- how to adjust to military life.  That was my dad without the cussing. Not even once I've observed.  I asked him once how did he manage to tell people how dissatisfied he was in their performance or motivating them to go somewhere without doing all of the swearings as his peers do.

"Son, it's just not necessary", he told me flatly. "You can find ways to tell men to do what you want them to do without all of that stuff. Besides, I think that it takes away from your professionalism. If you have to cuss and swear out, do it because of something you did to yourself, not because of something someone else does to you or because you don't have anything better to say."

Being clean is not just a matter of soap, water, and cloth.  It is an attitude that starts with "cleaning inside out" while keeping one's composure not to let the language of the day influence your or others' behavior.  



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