Located in the city of Pocatello, Idaho, stands an unusual museum. It’s called the Museum of Clean. The next time you are in this part of the country, it’s worth stopping in for a visit. The Museum of Clean is dedicated to the history and art of staying clean and was founded in 2006. Don Aslett, the museum’s founder, put on display his large collection of cleaning supplies – including 250 pre-electric vacuums. Don’s vision of the Museum of Clean is to sell the idea and value of clean – clean homes, clean minds, clean language, clean community, and a clean world. One of the many displays contains the following story.
Starting in the spring of 1970, Don Aslett’s janitorial company, Varsity Contractors, had a contract to clean the world-famous ski resort at Sun Valley Idaho. At the beginning of the next winter, the owner of the Sun Valley Resort asked Don if he was a toilet cleaner, to which he proudly proclaimed he indeed was. The toilets in question were fifteen outhouses spread strategically over the ski hill that would serve the expected five thousand skiers.
Don did not have any skiers in his janitorial crew, so he had to find someone who could ski as well as clean a toilet. With the offer of having to work for only three hours to clean the toilets and ski for free for the other four hours, Don quickly found an enthusiastic candidate. However, his enthusiasm was destroyed that first night as the stigma of being a toilet cleaner in a trendy ski resort caught up to him in the form of laughter and ridicule, and his damaged self-image forced him to quit. Don went through fourteen skiing toilet scrubbers that all quit for that same reason, some lasting a week, others less than a day.
Don was about at his wit’s end when Bill Zickgraf, recently relocated from North Carolina, came into Don’s office after hearing Don had a job opening. Not only did Bill take the job, despite the fact that he did not know how to ski, but to say he embraced his job is a gross understatement. As he learned to ski the hard way, Bill’s attitude and pride in his job soon made him the most famous person on the mountain. At the lodge, Bill would be eagerly awaited to tell stories of his toilet cleaning adventures, leaving his trademark crossed mops stuck in the snow outside alongside all the rest of the skis.
Everywhere Bill went in Sun Valley, everybody knew him. Indeed, the only rivals for prestige and status on the mountain were the elite group of squarejawed heroes in the Ski Patrol in their bright red coats with fancy trim displaying their big emblem of two crossed skis. So, Bill had a coat specially made, complete with an outhouse silhouette and “Bowl Patrol” proudly emblazoned across his back.
The next August, Don had seventeen applicants for the toilet cleaning job on the mountain, all wanting to do the job without pay. Bill Zickgraf, the first Sun Valley Toilet Cleaner, became a legend completely due to his attitude. At Med One, there are many “Bill Zickgraf’s.” I’ve ridden in delivery trucks with them, cleaned hospital bed mattresses with them, spent time waiting in airports with them, endured long meetings and endless conference calls with them, and I’ve sat with many who have struggled with emotional and physical pain. There are many “Bill Zickgraf’s” among us – people who simply choose to have a positive attitude. When you change your attitude, nothing can stop you.