From: firstname.lastname@example.org (nikolai kingsley) Newsgroups: talk.bizarre Subject: a lesson in abject humility Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997 20:04:18 +1100 Organization: anarchartists/FDP Lines: 73 Message-ID: <MPG.email@example.com> Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org X-Newsreader: Anawave Gravity v2.00.753 So, I got a job at the mall. Custodial services was the politically correct name for it; mopping up was the actuality. As always, my mind could come up with some obscure association or quote to suit the situation, and in this case, I saw in my mind a frame from a Drew and Josh Allen Friedman strip in an early issue of Weirdo: "Th' mop is my mistress". Well, yeah, I got to know that mop very well, but I never had sex with it. The third day on the job, I was down in the supply room getting a new bottle of Handy Andy when I overheard the head Mop Dude talking to someone about the interview. I'd been hired by mistake; they were supposed to have given the job to the person just before me in the queue, but he'd been hit by a station wagon out in the carpark. "Can't we just fire him and hire the right one?" "No, it's too late. He's already got the mop." "Ah." That "ah" sound worried me. It spoke of Many Things Which Had Been Hidden From Me about this job. I considered that they might be religious nut- cases, or perhaps driven by a Lone Dynamic Madman, like in that Paul the Samurai comic. I resolved to keep my eyes open, but forgot about this a few days later. I was developing routines to make the time go by, and my latest one (after trying as hard as I could to make mopping a meditative process) was to find out who was jerking off underneath the mall directory sign. For the moment, I assumed it was a lone Onanist (I wasn't going to consider other possibilities - such as someone bringing their used condoms along and emptying them there - until I had more data); seed was spilled on Tuesday, then Friday, then the following Monday and then Tuesday and then Thursday. No immediate pattern revealed itself apart from the valuable datum that he wouldn't return until I'd cleaned up his previous offering; I thought about not cleaning under there for a week and watching out for someone with swollen testicles sniffing around the sign, but it was generally agreed amongst the Mop Dudes that this would have been a violation of the Code. We made the Code up as we went along; it was our attempt at giving the job some glamour. We could pretend that we were warriors in a never- ending battle against encroaching chaos rather than guys with mops cleaning up puke. We spent hours debating ridiculously minor points such as if it was below our dignity to wipe dust off the artificial plant leaves more than once a fortnight; if the previous Head Mop Dude had ascended to heaven bodily or just in essence, leaving his physical shell behind in the crawlspace; if it was a moral wrong to sniff ammonia by choice, since this was more or less a victimless crime; if we had enough boxes of paper towels left to last the month without reordering. We were closet Gemetriacs in our store-room shul, and the Code became positively byzantine. It gave us something to hang onto in an otherwise unbearable job. Well, at first. At the start of my fifth week, I came in to work and found someone had carved a ring-shaped notch around the end of my wooden mop handle, about an inch down from the top. It had been inlaid with dark green enamel. I hadn't noticed this before, but the other guys' mops all had them, and the head Mop Dude's mop had three. I began to wonder if this was some Masonic thing, or if we were all acolytes worshipping the Beast of the Boiler-room. It was around this time that I bothered to check out how much they were putting into my bank account, and I worked out I was getting around eighty-five thousand dollars a year. Not bad. I was also told that this was a secret not to be given out on pain of death, but this is talk.bizarre, and no-one would believe any of it. nikolai --- As I grow older, Mother, I find I have less use for the letter "K"... - Greg Fleet, "Tales of Unease"