Saturday, December 05, 2009

Full Disclosure:

I was a janitor once. Wore keys on my belt loop and everything. We were living in a place called Fort McMurray, Alberta for a couple of months, trying to rake in some cash to pay for Jon’s final year of undergrad. I specialized in cleaning bathrooms in a government building; Not my first choice of career obviously, but it paid really well and I was helping out a member of Jon’s family. Plus, we were poor and desperate in our first year of marriage, so I did it. The memories will last a lifetime. Luckily I stayed in close contact with my friends and family members through email during that time, so I’ve got documentation of all the best stories. This blog post brought to you by COPY AND PASTE. Enjoy.

[To my friend Christa, on my streamlined routine] First, I spray large
amounts of air freshener, even if it doesn't stink. Then, I scan the
area. Any bits of paper on the floor, I just pick up with my hand (always
gloved..I got in trouble the other day for using too many gloves. Like I'm
going to reuse a pair!) because it's way easier than sweeping it. Next I
get the toilets over and done with, because they're the worst part. I
carefully kick open the door and steal a glance at what’s in the toilet. I
do it this way so that if there is something, I don't have to know what it
is. I hold my breath, stare at the ceiling, and feel around with my foot
for the flusher. Then, I spray each of the toilet seats with Windex (I use
it as all purpose cleaner, even though I'm pretty sure it's just for glass) and
smear it around with a paper towel. I rarely lift the seat to clean
underneath. That's gross. If it's a men's bathroom, I tackle the
urinal first. This is the only time I use something other than
Windex. I use this Clorox stuff because it says "No Scrub" on the front,
and I figure that means I can just spray it all over, and flush. Five
seconds, easy. If the sink has soap on it, I clean it off. If not,
it looks clean enough to me. Shine up the fixtures, clean waterspots off
mirrors, then check the garbage. I asked the girl who trained me if I'm
supposed to change the garbage every day, and she said yes. But if it's
not full, why would I change it? So as far as garbage is concerned, I
generally just smash it down every day, until it's absolutely necessary to
change it. And...thats about it. Today I was a little more thorough
though because I was talking to a coworker (this 40 year old foul-mouthed
plumber) and he was like "Yeah, all the people before did half-a**ed jobs
cleaning the bathrooms" and I acted all shocked that someone would do that, then
cleaned a little bit better today to make up for it. But really can't
see it lasting.

[To my mom] The older lady that works there asked
me to mop up a "spill" in the stairwell, and to "wear gloves" because she didn't
know what it was. So I was terrified that it was vomit. I was
creeping around the stairwell so slowly and my little heart was beating so
fast. It ended up being what looked like pee. I'd like to think it
wasn't, but I'd have rather mopped up pee with my shirt than even see or smell

[To my sister Annie, on unwelcome intruders] So when the
girl who was training me was telling me about the bottom level bathrooms she
goes "now these are the only ones in the building that are unlocked, so you have
to watch out for homeless people when you clean them". She goes on to
explain that if I find clothes or anything hidden under sinks or in trash cans,
just to throw them away because it means that someone is trying to live in
there. She says this like it’s perfectly normal, people trying to live in
bathrooms. But it seriously happens. The next day I went in to clean
and I checked under the stalls and I see someone's feet in dirty sneakers
sitting in the middle stall. So I'm like, well they won't be long, I'll
just start sweeping or whatever, and they'll leave. So I'm in there like 5
minutes and this person is not making ANY noise. No rustling of toilet
paper, nothing. It reminded me of someone trying to avoid a T-rex by just
being really still. So I was like, whatever, I'll go clean the men's room
then come back. 15 minutes later, same little sneakers in the middle
stall. So I went and got security and they kicked her out. That same
day someone reported to security that there was "someone passed out in the
bathroom" and the security girl told me later that it was just some lady taking
a nap on the floor. She took her boots off and everything.

[To my friend Kellie, on our furniture/apartment situation back in
Our managers let us keep our stuff in our apartment for
free! Jon went to talk to them about maybe paying a couple hundred
less a month if they turn off our amenities, and the girl was like..."no, we can
just turn them off and you can just keep your stuff there for free". Which
is soooo awesome because we were going to move it into storage, then once we got
back there’s no guaranteeing that we'd find another place to live soon, and then
we'd have to live in bathrooms.


  1. Oh the memories are flooding back to me of doing this same miserable job, in the same dingy building! Those bottom floor bathrooms that don't lock were always the worst to clean from all the homeless people. Yuck. I love your description of how "thorough" you were. . . Ha.

    I'm happy it wasn't vomit.

  2. This post really made me laugh. I love that cleaning under the toilet seat is gross.

    I don't know where in Tucson you lived but in our building, we had to watch out for homeless people trying to move into the church basement. I had to go early in the morning for Primary sometimes and I was always scared to flip on the lights in case there was a dude there.

  3. Oh LonDa! I remember working for that same company in Lethbridge! (We've almost all been there!) I can totally relate to the homeless incident. I also found feet in one of the stalls, and heard what sounded like a bear tearing apart meat. I got security (or Nate, or Darc or someone), and it was a drunk Native guy snoring in the bathroom. Scared the crap outta me! So I, too, proudly, wore keys and a beeper on my belt!

  4. Me too! Good old provincial building in Lethbridge and it was our first year of marriage too. Good times. The pager was cool.

  5. I was watching that 30 Rock episode where they're trying to come up with a name for a mini microwave by randomly selecting scrabble letter tiles. It reminded me of you. Because you like scrabble.

  6. Yeah...well...I invented

  7. No one gave ME a pager!!! Now I'm angry. My Sabbath is ruined.