From: (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: <>
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."


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 

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.

As I grow older, Mother, I find I have less use for the letter "K"...
 - Greg Fleet, "Tales of Unease"