My Janitorial Pressure

It’s important to know your limitations. For some it may be a lacking at physical prowess. For others, their limitations could be caused by fear.

For me, it’s very obvious. I do not always handle pressure well.

I was riding up the elevator at work today when the door opened. The janitor (Custodian? Maintenance Technician? I’m not sure what the appropriate job title is…) pushed his trashcan and cleaning supplies onto the elevator.

An elevator ride is always awkward, particularly for people like me who don’t enjoy small talk. I mean, I could ask him about the weather, but we both can only talk about how cold it is for about three seconds before an even more awkward silence would set in. I don’t know if he likes any sports, so that’s out. I don’t know why, but I assume that we would probably have little to talk about work wise as my job involves a cubicle and his involves silently resenting people like me for never dumping the grounds out of our coffee machines. Not wanting to spend the next three floors apologizing for people’s lack of coffee machine etiquette, we rode up silently, each of us obviously wanting to leave the tiny moving room we had been forced to share. As the door opened, we both quickly made our way out and I was happy to put this ride behind me.

As I walked to the restroom, I noticed that he was behind me. I turned the corner to the hall and he was still there, hot on my tail. I quickly sped up, turned the corner and went into the restroom. As I headed to the far urinal, I heard the door open along with light squeak of the trashcan’s wheels.

I had walked ahead of this gentleman into the very room he was hoping to clean.

I flushed and walked to the sinks when a terrible realization set in. I was about to have to wash my hands in the vision of the man who had just set about cleaning the sinks I intended to use. If I make the slightest mess, I don’t have the option of slinking out of the bathroom and hoping no one knows I did it. He would know for a fact that I did.

I imagined future elevator rides this man would have, telling all of the other people in the building about how I use too much soap and splatter water everywhere. It’s a virtual nightmare.

I took a deep breath and went in. Like a great gymnast, I was determined to get a perfect ten for style. The harsh judge was there waiting to score me.

First I turned on the sink. I made sure to turn it on just enough for a good solid stream but not enough for the splatter. If any water were to bounce off of my hand and hit the mirror in front, my only option would be to sprint out of the bathroom and away from the newly speckled mirror full speed.

Slowly I slid my hands into the stream. So far so good, I thought. The next step would be the most dangerous though.

I moved my dampened hands over to the automatic soap pump. If one bit of that soap did not fall on my hands, I would have created a foamy disaster on the edge of the sink for my elevator buddy to deal with. The dispenser made its unnerving mechanical noises (Nothing in a bathroom should ever make a grinding sound like that) and the soap began to spill out. I waited patiently before withdrawing my hands and sliding them into the water.


Now it was time for the dismount. The paper towel dispenser was a good three feet away from the sink. Three feet is a long way for a person with very wet hands to travel. I turned off the water, careful to not leave wet fingerprints on the sink handle. One gentle shake to remove excess water, then I turned and took a step.

As I debated what number of paper towels would be appropriate to grab (Two. One looks overconfident in your drying abilities, three is essentially saying “Hope you enjoy filling this up ten times a day!”), I glanced down in time to see it.

There, falling to the ground, was a single water drop. My shaking had not been adequate and now I watched as the water droplet fell in slow motion. It hit the ground like a ton of bricks. I hung my head in shame as I imagined the scores coming in.

“The judge from Custodonia pulls out the card and… ooo… you hate to see that. It’s an 8.2. No coming back after that.”

I carefully dried my hands, and walked out, my head held in shame.

Today was a dark day. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look the janitor in the eyes again. I wouldn’t blame him if he started dumping everyone else’s trash into my cubicle when I left at night. It’s the very least he could do.

I think I’ll take the stairs from now on.


7 thoughts on “My Janitorial Pressure

  1. Awwwww!

    I try and thank ‘my’ cleaning staff when I see them (like when they come to empty the bin orr wash the floor).usually it takes a month or so before we mention the weather and another few weeks before other topics are ‘open’. One even agreed to teach me Portuguese a couple of years ago 🙂


  2. Thank you for posting this! You had me cracking up the entire read.
    I know oh so well all of the above feelings. If it were up to me, I’d never talk to any one other than my immediate family the rest of my life. And even they are iffy.
    Just a tip: first turn on the water then get soap then get your hands wet. It’s a lot less messy 🙂


  3. Ah, that sounds like me. For some reason, I always have to leave the house or come home just when our cleaning lady has finished mopping the (obviously still wet) floors outside our apartment. I don’t think she knows me other than tiptoeing and mumbling moot apologies.

    Oh, and I’d go by “facility manager” if it was my job.


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