Thursday, March 22, 2007

A poem about how it feels to get hit in the head with a foam bat

Kah-Thwiff! and Boing! and Sproing! and Ploof!
Your swings only hurt my feelings.
And even then, not very much.




Just what were you hoping to accomplish, anyway?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Art of Waxing

I'm not sure whether I want to tell Isaac the truth or not. He seems just wavy-gravy enough to take it well, like the old dude on the bus. I don't know if you remember him from a previous post (all two of you), but the old dude, besides telling me never to work for a contractor (guilty on two counts now, I'm afraid), also urged me to enjoy my trips a bit more. For him, experience was quality in and of itself. A lout might ask if getting kicked in the nuts is quality. To you, I say, read the My New Superpower post. I remember Isaac's speech about teenagers, and the similarities strike me. The old dude didn't wish his fate on others and so gave advice freely, drawing from past mistakes. Isaac shared his teenager avoidance manoeuvres when we first met. He too didn't want me to suffer as he had. So, I'm standing here watching Isaac teach me the subtleties of floor waxing, and his enthusiasm and perfectionism are a true sight to behold. I'm pretty sure he'd have no problem with it at all.

“Waxing a brand new floor is the best, of course, because you get it right the first time. But man, there is just something about restoring a beat up ol' floor and making it look like new. It's a true test of skill and imagination, you know?. No floor is the same to begin with, but you throw in a decade or two of different janitors using different techniques, all of them flawed, and sometimes you have a real challenge there. It's almost like antique restoration: patience and subtleness. You can't just strip the floor bare and start on naked tile! You'll get two days of shine and it'll go duller than PBS. The floor'll never be the same. Never.”

All of this while he waxes, happily enough, a brand new classroom tile floor. We are in our sock feet and Isaac is cool enough to let me help him despite my inexperience. Just enough wax on the broom, smooth, even strokes that leave a uniform coat that dries almost instantly. Rather than throw on one sloppy coat of wax, we will leave perhaps 7-10 thin ones on top of 3 similar coats of tile sealer. His monologue has left me calm and confident. I find myself admiring the transformation of the floor. Brilliant. I will say this: I am not willing to swallow Isaac's janitorial art thesis just yet, but I'll let him spoonfeed me some.

But is he cool enough to let me keep waxing if I suddenly say “You know Isaac, this might shock you quite a bit, but sometimes I accidentally travel through time. I just wanted to warn you in advance in case it happens again. You might have to finish my half of the classroom.”

Maybe some other time.

By the way, I just wanted to let you know that Diane died a few weeks ago. At least she's dead to me. Do you hear that Diane? You are DEAD TO ME! You know why, don't make me repeat it to my loyal readers! And I want my watch back. Enough of your twisted head games, just give me the watch and this whole sordid affair will be over!.

Mosaic Image Generator

I did this all by myself. It took 2 years to complete. Actually, I'm lying. You probably already know that I lie pathologically. It actually took 2 minutes and besides uploading the picture, I really had little to do with it.

Thanks to for letting us all be pretentious artists.

Click the picture for a close-up.

Friday, March 02, 2007

A glimpse of the surprisingly sophisticated.

"Janitorial work is a hidden art form."

So says Isaac, my one day trainer. The ability to restore any three-dimensional space to its original pristine form takes years of training, but for now I will learn to master the high school dimension. "There are two important things to remember when cleaning a high school." says Issac. "Number one is that it is a large two-story building with numerous hallways and sections." One of those sections will be mine, and by the end of today I must find the available section that was meant for me.

"Some cleaners even like cleaning bathrooms the most. They enjoy the simplicity and repetition. Me, though," Issac points to his chest "I embrace the dynamics of a varied section. The difficulty level is stimulating and time goes faster. The shop wing would be perfect, but Ronnie has had that sewn up for years."

"The second thing to remember when cleaning a high school is that for six of the ten business hours in a day, the entire school is crawling with teenagers. They are dirty and unpredictable psychopaths who think adults are assholes." Issac has offered his full compliment of stealth techniques and avoidance manoeuvres. Aren't those the same thing, come to think of it? His best manoeuvre is staring at the floor when walking the halls, only looking up when the coast is clear. Funny, I used the very same trick when I was a student here. Maybe that glaring lack of self-confidence is the reason I've returned as a custodian ten years later? No. No. No. I'm forgetting the whole temporal issue. I can't burn bridges with decent employers. I'll have to be certain that I won't go falling into next month again before looking for a real job.

But still, amongst these dangers, I will bring health and cleanliness to these hallowed halls, this piece of modern art with its concrete and steel and central air. In the end, I don't actually choose my section as Issac has promised (actually, he rather aureately divined that the section would choose me). Carl returns, appearing suddenly around the next corner. He faces us, clipboard in hand, and with an offsetting half-smile asks "Do you mind doing me a favour, Morton?"

Turns out, they need a man to clean the shop wing. "I'm sorry Morton," Carl explains as he rushes me to the shop wing, "but Ronnie called in sick and none of the girls like doing this wing at night."

Issac's lesson was more spiritual than practical in the small amount of time he had to train me. I last saw him entering his closet. I caught a glimpse of neatly stacked cleaning agents and a surprisingly sophisticated janitorial cart. There appeared to be extra compartments for holding various tools and the entire cart was painted a monolithic black. I expect I'll get a closer glimpse at this cart in the future. Carl shows me where Ronnie's closet is, takes me on a whirlwind tour of the section, and we stop just outside the closet.

"You've cleaned before right?"

I know for a fact that I've told Carl before "Not very much at all, no professional experience," but right now, it's time to make a good decision, "Yeah, definitely."

"Great!" exclaims Carl, giving me a pat on the back and handing me the keys. As a parting shot, he yells back to me as he's scurrying away, "You know, I think this is the section for you. I think we'll keep you here permanently!"

What about Ronnie?