I've contributed to perhaps the best humor compilation I've ever read. Available now on Amazon!

My second chapbook, "The Second Book of Pearl: The Cats" is now available as either a paper chapbook or as a downloadable item. See below for the Pay Pal link or click on its cover just to the right of the newest blog post to download to your Kindle, iPad, or Nook. Just $3.99 for inspired tales of gin, gambling addiction and inter-feline betrayal.

My first chapbook, I Was Raised to be A Lert is in its third printing and is available both via the PayPal link below and on smashwords! Order one? Download one? It's all for you, baby!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Purpose-Driven Life, or If It HAD Been a Spider, I Wouldn’t Have Picked It Up


“I need your help,” I say.

“Mmmm,” she muses.  “And so the tables turn and now I am the master.”  I  hear her close her eyes, rub the tips of her little fingers together. “Speak freely, neophyte.  There are no stupid questions.  Just stupid answers.”

I consider the many ways this conversation train has already jumped the tracks but chug on.  There will be time for playing into Mary’s soft, freckled hands another phone call. 

“How can people leave a public bathroom knowing full well that they just dropped, say, a paper towel on the floor and not be bothered to pick it up?  What’s it mean?  Is it, like, hey, someone else can pick this up?”

Mary chuckles. 

I narrow my eyes at her, something I am certain she can pick up over the phone.  “Heeeey.”

“You crabby today?” she says.

“No.  Yes.  No.  Shut up.”

Mary chuckles again, a bit indulgently, if you ask me.  “How did this come up?”

I shake my head, the memory still vivid.  “Well I was in the bathroom, and I look down and someone’s pulled off this huge entanglement of black threads from something and just left it on the floor.  I thought it was a spider.”

“And you picked it up and threw it away, is that where we’re going with this?”

I nod. 

“Have you considered,” she says, “that because you and I clean houses that you may actually be feeling protective of those in the janitorial services?”

I had not considered this connection.  “I hadn’t really thought of that,” I grumble, “although this explains why I’ve been shopping for a shirt with my name embroidered on it.”

“Do you rinse out the sinks?”

I nod.  “And wipe down the counters.”

“Do you push down the overflowing paper towel baskets?”

I frown.  “Somebody’s got to.”

“Tsk, tsk,” she says.  “You know people put hypodermic needles in there, don’t you?”

“Shaddap.”

Mary’s laughs.  “And LSD, man!  There’s liquid LSD hidden in the trashcans, man!”

“I should be so lucky,” I mutter, a small smile forming.

“You know, I’m fresh outta LSD,” she says.  “But I can pop by with a pair of Jon’s work socks.  A whiff or two and that’ll dilate yer pupils.”

I smile.

“You feel better now?”

I nod.  “I’m gonna keep doing it, you know.  I’m going to keep picking up.”

Mary sighs.  “That’s why we’re here,” she says.  

51 comments:

Shelly said...

I have friends who make lighthearted fun of me because I do so many little cleanliness tasks in public bathrooms, including straightening the trash can, wiping down the counters, etc. I'm glad to know I'm in good company here.

I'm waiting for the new reality show to come out: My Weird Compulsion- Cleaning Public Restrooms. I will be their first star.

R. Jacob said...

f you ever worked in the service industry, in any capacity, you will think and act that way. I used to be a bartender and as a result I always tip well. If I see a messy shelf in a store, I will straighten it out! and laughing while I do it!

shopping for a shirt with your name on it? Oh Pearl, that brought a smile, and yes, your job is done. Just leave a silver bullet on the way out!

Camille said...

And now if we could only get those women (and they know who they are) to stop peeing all over the toilet seats....

L-Kat said...

I avoid public bathrooms as much as I can. Why is everything so wet in there?? Ew.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

There are those who make messes and those who clean them up....the trick is to find a healthy balance.

Pearl said...

Shelly, well if we just all picked up a LITTLE, you know????

R., I hear ya. Once you've worked in the service industry, the world is -- and should be! -- a different place.

Camille, a completely different post, iddin it?! A little consideration goes a long way!

L-Kat, I can't say I'm terribly squeamish, but a wet-floored bathroom gets to me...

Delores, absolutely. In this life, I shall be a cleaner. So it is written, so it shall be done. :-)

Belle said...

When I was a janitor and house-cleaner I used to tidy up everywhere I went. I've kind of gotten over that now. Although, when I eat out at a restaurant I pile up the plates and put the napkins, sugar packs and silverware on top. That way the waitress doesn't have to do it. :)

Susan in the Boonies said...

If I were rich, I would totally hire you to be my personal assistant.

You could pick up after me, wipe down my counters, pour me a beverage without slopping the ice into my drink, and beat up any evil doers who might be lurking anywhere nearby.

You'd be my Girl Friday, Pearl. (with or without your ipod)

I'd love to have you in my corner. I know you'd always have my back. But if my back were in a corner, would I actually need you to HAVE my back?

You perceive the difficulty, yes? The mixing of metaphors: stirred, but not shaken. It bruises the gin.

Pearl said...

Belle, that's all we ask. That you pull your weight. :-)

Susan, you delightful weirdo you. :-) Of COURSE I would have your back, esPECIALLY if it were in a corner, the having of such a protected back so much easier, you understand. And stirred or shaken, I've now a craving for a dirty martini. Mmmmm.

Leenie said...

We ALL live and work in a service industry. We should all be conscious of the lack of consideration and mess and do what we can, like you, to leave things a little better. Kids shouldn't leave home without those skills. Unfortunately most do. Yay for bathroom cleaners everywhere.

Okay I'll get down off my rant box now.

Symdaddy said...

People! I can fully understand Pearlchen's urge tidy the 'Throne room'!

I too have suffered from this completely unexplainable and unbidden drive to get my wife to clean up those I've been in.

Now that I know that Pearlchen is addicted to 'public depository' cleansing, I know who to send for!

Pearl said...

Leenie, I think consideration, as a general practice, has fallen off. Why is that?

Sym, oh, that is so going to cost you. I'm thinking beer. And whatever your national dish (so long as it's not haggis) is.
I shall be waiting.

The Jules said...

I bet you leave the seat up though.

SherilinR said...

every job i've had has left me a better person. i tidy public bathrooms, straighten racks and tables in retail stores, pre-bus my tables in restaurants. everyone should have to work in some sort of service capacity straight out of high school to make them better adults for the remainder of their lives. like forced military service in some countries.

Pat Tillett said...

That's funny! I do sometimes do minor straightening of things on shelves in a store, but If ever there was a place NOT to have these tendencies, it's in a public bathroom. I have a hard time allowing myself to touch anything in them (and I usually don't). I can be pretty darn nimble with my foot. I really like it when a public bathroom doesn't have a door at all. Just and opening and then a zig (or zag) to the right or left for another opening that gets you out of that hellhole of germs.

Ach du lieber said...

I will do everything in my power not to make a mess in a public bathroom, but I draw the line at cleaning up after strangers.
You just never know where they've been.

Pearl said...

Jules, you've peeked. :-)

Sherilin, I've said as much myself. Day cares, restaurants, taxis, retail...

Pat, while I'm not above tidying up a public bathroom (as long as there's soap available) I am actually talking about my work bathroom! Of the 50 or so women on this floor, I have to wonder who among them can't be bothered to drop their used paper towel into the garbage...

Pearl said...

Ach du Lieber! (I like saying that.) I can't help it. It is the way of my people. :-)

Eva Gallant said...

I love your phone conversations with Mary!

Joanne said...

Seven decades of cleaning up behind myself in the ladies room to no avail; I think they are built messy.

jenny_o said...

Uh oh, you've just tapped into one of my pet peeves too ... in a small office, it's obvious who is and isn't neat/clean, and it can be shocking to find out which is which, and that's all I'm gonna say ...

Kerry said...

I had NO idea that there was a single other person who did this kind of thing in public restrooms. When I pick up after other people there I'm kind of inexplicably furtive about it.

Sioux said...

I make the trash more compact as well, and I've never cleaned other people's houses. What does that say about me?

Joe Pereira said...

I detest public bathrooms and only use them in emergencies - but I love this post, Pearl. You have the knack of making me smile each time I read your entries. Thanks x

esbboston said...

I used to clean (dust) the picture frames in the hallway outside of our laboratory at work, but more importantly I made sure they were level. There were eXterior doors at each end of the hallway, and it being Texas, the wind never reaLLy stops blowing, eXcept when it decides to change directions.

esbboston said...

LSD? I never imagined you having an interest in those. I thought, after reading you for awhile, maybe there was an opiate or cannabinoidial influence (of course I mean that in the nicest positive way) hahahahaha, not t-reaLLy.

Douglas said...

You must have been reading the last three days of Luann...
Start here:

http://www.gocomics.com/luann/2012/04/09
Click right arrows.

haphazardlife said...

I don't want a shirt with my name on it, but I do exactly the same thing. I can only hope that one day I come into contact with liquid LSD in the trash cans.

Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...

Pearl, that's transplant Minnesotan OCD if I've ever seen it. Carry a big stick to poke down the paper towels and whack thready spiders just to be on the safe side. ":))

Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...

Pearl, that's transplant Minnesotan OCD if I've ever seen it. Carry a big stick to poke down the paper towels and whack thready spiders just to be on the safe side. ":))

Craver Vii said...

I am not tempted to push down the garbage on account of the unknown yuckies, but since the age of 16, I have habitually picked up litter and wiped the counters. There are two general exceptions. 1) I will not clean whatever I have delegated to my own children. and 2) Bad knees make me think twice about how thorough I get over picking things up off the floor.

Also, I get bent WAY out of shape when I see someone litter.

Kelley said...

That's how I feel about people that litter out on the freeway. Who do they expect is going to pick that up???? Ahhh!!! They're like overgrown toddlers!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Okay, so now I get it. Now that I understand you're talking about your workplace restroom, I'm completely onboard with that. Sure, I'd neaten up for my fellow workers if they were a little on the slobby side, but I'm not such a neat freak that I'd even consider doing it for a bunch of strangers, like in a Walmart or bus station bathroom. And I definitely bus the dishes and wipe the table when we go out to eat. Nope, I've never been a waitress. Just a mom and grandmom. Come to think of it, same thing. Lousy tips, though.

Roshni said...

you're just too nice a person, Pearl!

Gigi said...

One time our bathroom at work got so bad (with people just dropping paper towels on the floor) that management put up a sign. Yes, seriously. A sign. My thought was, "Jeez people! Do you act like that at home?"

Suzy said...

I usually find myself at the little Starbucks sugar and milk cart cleaning up after everyone. And there's always another random woman who'll show up and do the same thing. We'll look at each other and one of us will say, "I know, I have a problem."

Stephanie said...

Ah, I love the way that this post ends. Such a perfect ending. Also - the title deserves an award. You know...if there were an award for titles. And if you accepted awards. Ha!

darlin said...

I totally agree with Camille, how do we get those who pee on the seats to behave like well trained human beings?

I spotted a sign when I first arrived at the uni here, there was a sign with a person standing... no squatting while standing, on the toilet seat (and they call it the toilet here), there was a red x through the sign. So I gathered there was no standing on the seat and squatting to do your business, but not everyone could distinguish what that meant from the looks of things. So back to square one... how do we get the message across? When wet hits the seat the individual gets zapped? Ya, that could work! lol

Cheers, have a wonderful day Pearl!

That Janie Girl said...

I was at a conference the past two days in Houston, at a Hilton Hotel. I went to the bathroom, and was waiting for a stall…when out came a homeless lady, trailing her quilt.

It felt so weird…to be in a plush hotel, and for that to happen.

And she didn't clean up after herself, either.

I'm with ya, Pearl.

NellieVaughn said...

I am not sure I could touch a public restroom. I know some of what goes in there, and what I don't know may be far worse.

HermanTurnip said...

My co-worker, who drops paper towels on the ground, claims that he's simply providing work for the cleaning staff, and without litter those people would be out of a job.

I'd like to think that he's simply trying to justify his bad behavior, but his flawed logic also rings faintly of truth. I'ma confused.

Diane said...

It's me! It's me! *Sob*

Crystal Pistol said...

I wish I had a Mary. :)

The Elephant's Child said...

Both you and Mary would be welcome here. Anytime. Soon?

Linda O'Connell said...

My granddaughter works in a building with four guys. She won't even GO there. She goes across the street to
the gas station.
I'm with you. I also clean up my messes, and sometimes other's.

the walking man said...

Pretty sad that someone can't or won't make the effort to hit the bin. Take it from a former Janitor that Pearls are rare to find in a lavatory.

hoodyhoo said...

I straighten shelves in stores. And pick things up off the floor and put them back.

Shrinky said...

Wonderfully zen-like! If it's any consolation, I actually went around the house yesterday, to hunt down which kid of mine had had the termerity to walk away from my EN-SUITE (reserved for my, and mine alone, use) loo, after having taken an enormous dump in there, without having the good grace to at least use the toilet brush there, to scrape off the smeared icky bits still clinging to the bowl..

Oops (blush) Maybe I need a friend like you have, who I can ring to talk me down, at times like that??

Suldog said...

I used to do janitorial work, so I still pick up after people in public restrooms. I always wonder, "Who raised these people? Unsanitary wolves?"

River said...

I do those bathroom cleanups too, then I stomp downstairs to the checkout and scowl at people which doesn't go over real well with the boss who rings my extension and reminds me to smile at the customers. :)

W.C.Camp said...

I hate stuff on the floor and counters in public facilities as well!! I pick up what I can and throw it away and always marvel that others must believe that it is somebody else's job to clean up after them??? Odd world indeed! W.C.C.