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?


Anonymous said...

What does temporal issue mean?

Off the Grid said...

And 4 months later, I will answer you, Anonymous! I assure you, the temporal issue I am having has nothing to do with my late response.

One day last year, I woke up and instead of it being tomorrow, it was months later and people were carrying on as if nothing had happened.

The only physical proof that I have that this actually happened to me (in an earlier post, I give some sound logical proof, however) is in electronic form at my former place of employment, one Fustar Inc., an international teleservices contractor. There, upon returning, I was forced to sign off on several hundred absenteeism forms - one for each day that I had missed consecutively.

The phenomenon has occurred at least twice more, although less days were lost in both cases. The entire experience seems random and terrifyingly connected to only me.

To learn more, you will have to read my blog. And for that, Anonymous, I am truly sorry.

- Morton