Cleanup on Aisle 6

Last night at 9:30, I was lying on my back under an ice machine, scrubbing the floor. I looked like an intense mechanic, or maybe a dead guy, cleaning the filth that seems to build up in dark places at night when nobody is there. I scraped away with a strong cleaning solution that would likely shred my hands into meat, and a towel, and then another towel, and yet another towel. I spent about 10 minutes down there. This is a normal thing.

As the evening’s store supervisor, most of my time is spent cleaning, and asking others to do the same. There are counters, and floors, and refrigerators, and shelves, and machines of all sorts, each of which needs a daily (or at least weekly) hosing down. I keep the more odious tasks to myself: you know, the ones you wouldn’t wish for someone else to do.

Like they Mystery Pooper’s Super Poop, from a few months ago. It was huge: think “meat loaf” huge. I don’t know how it came out of a human being. And after several flushes, it was clear it wasn’t going anywhere. I had to put on rubber gloves physically hoist the thing out of the toilet. I stuck it in a trash bag, along with the poor gloves  (it’s a wonder they didn’t whimper and shrivel up). and then put that mess inside another bag. And repeated the process. Then I took it out to the community dumpster, about 50 yards from our building. I’m still washing my hands after that one.

We have an older woman who occasionally comes by. She drinks quart after quart of iced tea. Then she sometimes has accidents. Now let me say her accidents are epic. Twice she’s alerted us to the fact. Twice she’s ducked out silently and let us discover the mess. One of the pee accidents were so bad I had to close the store and throw away a $600 leather chair. I had one of my coworkers mop twice. I had to mop twice more. What surprises me is that she keeps coming back. I mean, if I had such an accident (while conscious) in a public place, I’d probably never return.

Weeping Woman 1937 by Pablo Picasso 1881-1973
Picasso’s “Weeping Woman”. Maybe she had to clean the grease trap at work.

Yesterday, I had a pint of almost-boiling hot milk vibrate itself off a counter and cover just about every inch of me from the waist down. This was at 5PM, about halfway through my shift. I just had to walk around looking a slowly-drying Jackson Pollock painting. Did I mention almost-boiling? I don’t recommend putting superheated milk inside the shoes you’re wearing. Not even once. Not even for 4 hours.

A couple years ago, coworker tripped on a mat while carrying a half gallon of very sticky syrup. His misstep caused syrup to fly like a sneeze at the north wall, and the south wall, and the west wall. And the floor, and a pillar, and a door. Also the ceiling, a bulletin board, and a hallway. Also himself. He paused for a full two seconds after he realized what had happen, and drawled, “Awww, mannnnnnn!” Understatement of the year. I made him clean up. Sort of. We were still finding syrup in nooks and crannies a year later.

Cleanup is a part of life. We do it every day. It seems to occupy equal time with actually preparing and serving food and drinks. We mop up spills. We pick up discarded newspapers and straw wrappers. I knew it was part of my job, but I don’t think I ever realized, until recently, how much a part of my job it is. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to wring milk out of my socks and wash a load of laundry.



3 thoughts on “Cleanup on Aisle 6”

  1. You had me laughing. It’s good to be reminded to be constantly grateful for all the times somebody else cleans up after me.


  2. I’m already seriously concerned I am turning into Howard Hughes because there are germy things I just can’t handle or touch.
    Not just a mild aversion but total mental freakout (I am still sane enough that the “Ewwwwww!!!” is still spoken silent in my head) Thank you though for confirming that I will indeed be Hughes by age 55 and mumbling “ewww! Ewww! Ewww!” While wringing my hands uncontrollably 👍🏻😐


    1. I occasionally watch the show “Dirty Jobs.” Remember that one? With Mike Rowe? Probably don’t… Your aversion to squick probably caused you to block it out 😀


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