The Morning Report
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Barry Lambert doesn’t remember exactly when he met Ron Soucy, the fish specialist who was featured in the last installation of the San Diego People Project.
But he does remember the circumstances: It was somewhere between eight and 10 years ago. Lambert was browsing through Pet Kingdom, the Sports Arena Boulevard store where Soucy works.
While browsing, Lambert encountered Soucy, who shared a common enthusiasm for reptiles. They became fast friends, and Soucy had a big influence on Lambert’s life from then on.
“He told me I should get an (Chevrolet) Impala and I kind of bucked it for a while and next thing I know, I’m buying one,” Lambert says, sitting on a curb in Grossmont Center.
“And he also got you to get a Galapagos tortoise?” I ask him.
“He did,” Lambert says, laughing. “So he’s been fairly influential without even trying.”
I chatted with Lambert about his life, and then asked him a series of questions that will lead me to the next installment of this project.
Name: Barry Lambert
Part of town: La Mesa
OK, now you say you’re a contractor, but we’ve talked and I know what you do. You’re a pressure washer.
Exactly. So what I’m called is a cleaning contractor. So what we do is we’ll go in and clean structures and shopping centers, an entire homeowners’ association buildings, cement. We’ll remove mold and mildew and algae and scum and dirt — just anything that folks don’t want.
So you get to use these massive hoses all day?
Well, yeah, they’re not so much massive as there’s just a lot of pressure going through them. So, yeah, it can be a feat to try to monkey wrestle a hose that’s got 4,000 PSI running through it. (PSI stands for “pounds per square inch” and is a standard measurement for pressure.)
Is that just one person controlling it?
That’s one person. But I have two machines on one truck. So two people can operate at the same time.
OK, now I think my parents have a pressure washer that they spray around the back yard. How does it compare to something like that?
There’s no comparison. Because what we’re using is hot water, with higher pressure. It’s all truck mounted, all heavy-duty, industrial-type of equipment.
Is that fun?
Um, (long pause) not really. I mean, it’s a job. The money’s rewarding and that’s what I work for. You know, it’s not where I help somebody — I’m not a counselor — so I don’t get much real personal reward with my work other than making a living.
You can look at a project when it’s done and say it’s clean. I don’t know how to explain it though. You don’t jump for joy when you’re done.
OK … It sounds fun.
You know, a lot of people that have never done it think it’s fun. I’ve been doing it now going on 12 years, so it’s routine now. So, there’s not always a lot of fun other than having different hours. I don’t have to report to anybody. I’m my own boss. So, in that aspect it’s fun.
But as far as the actual job goes — I guess yeah, actually, sometimes it can be fun. I take that back. Not every job is though.
What is your favorite job that you have done of all the buildings you’ve worked on?
Probably working at the Hotel Del, doing some of the structural cleaning. You get a little bit of an audience out there watching, because it’s 80 feet up in the air and you’re seeing dirt come off of the building. So you get tourists and employees alike stopping to look and checking things out.
And there’s a huge difference when it’s done. Everybody smiles.
Is it daunting at all? I feel like if you do your job improperly, you could damage the building or rip off the paint or something.
Yeah, the Hotel Del is a historical hotel, so some of the paint on it is a little fragile. You do have to be careful. So, most of the work is done, I guess you could say from a distance. You don’t get real close to the paint.
But, you know, when you’re up that far and you’re at the Del, you feel like you can touch the planes flying overhead. You can see almost all of Coronado, the weather’s perfect almost year round. And, when you’re sitting in a basket almost 80 feet up in the air, there’s something kind of peaceful up there. Even though it can be a little hectic that far up and the basket’s swaying, when you can stop for a minute and it gets calm, it’s pretty neat.
And here you were saying your job isn’t fun.
At times it’s fun.
— Interview conducted and edited by SAM HODGSON