Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
2:57 am EDT
Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Carpet-cleaning sweethearts

Remembering an endearing moment from a past Valentine’s Day.

To this day, I can’t help but flash a smile when I pass a Stanley Steamer location, see one of their yellow vans with black lettering or watch a TV commercial for the carpet cleaners.

Stanley Steamer will always have a special place in my heart. 

Back on Valentine’s Day 1991, I had taken the day off from my newspaper job to have the carpets cleaned at my family’s two-story country home on five acres outside Anderson, Indiana. I purposely chose this day to get the house ready for the real estate market because I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing my female co-workers receive Valentine’s Day flowers when I knew my 12-year marriage was crumbling. 

Just a couple of weeks before—when my young daughters and I had pink eye at the same time—I received startling news that my first husband wanted out of the marriage.

“I want somebody who looks like a million bucks on my arm,” he says, repeating it twice. Of course, having pink eye, I wished I looked better, too!

But he wasn’t joking. His superficial comment made it easy for me to realize we were not on the same page as far as values, and I knew this was not the same man with whom I had fallen in love. 

The emotional roller coaster of sadness and heartache I was feeling came to a screeching halt on that Valentine’s Day nearly three decades ago. As two men from Stanley Steamer cleaned away, I went out to get the mail and was shocked to open a business-size white envelope containing the petition for divorce.

The reality hit me hard, and it was devastating to receive the papers on Valentine’s Day. As I broke down bawling, the carpet cleaners rushed to my side and listened as I blubbered and showed them the papers. Without any hesitation, the men consoled me with a compassionate hug, and their endearing act of kindness was exactly what I needed at that moment. 

On Valentine’s Day a few years ago, I noticed I was driving past Stanley Steamer in Leesburg. I made a spontaneous U-turn and went into the office just to tell the receptionist the story of how Stanley Steamer touched my heart and still makes me smile. 

About the Author

Originally from Anderson, Ind., Theresa worked for The Herald-Bulletin for many years. After experiencing a winter with 53 inches of snow, her late husband asked her to get a job in Florida, and they headed south. Well known in the area, Theresa worked with The Daily Sun and The Daily Commercial prior to joining Akers. “I finally have my dream job. I’ve wanted to work for a magazine since I was a teenager, and I’m very excited to be here,” Theresa says. “There is such positive energy at Akers that it’s infectious.” Theresa has three grown daughters—Julia lives in San Francisco, Emily is in Seattle, and Maria in Orlando.