The Cleaner’s Statement

Just a little experiment.

After I get my cart ready, the first thing I do is clean the public bathrooms. The night cleaner goes home when the mall closes, but security doesn’t lock the bathrooms until after the last movie gets out, so they are messy when I open them in the morning. They need to be clean when the mall opens. I never know what I’ll find from the night before, so sometimes it takes a long time. There’s always paper on the floor, more in the ladies. The men’s room has piss all over the floor, and in the ladies’ room it is all over the seats. Some days there is shit on the floor, and sometimes there are bottles of booze, or graffiti. I have a special spray for the graffiti, but it’s really poisonous stuff and hurts my nose. Until I found the body, the weirdest thing I found was a condom in one of the sinks. I don’t know why they didn’t throw it in the garbage, or the toilet. Another time I found a bra. But the body was the weirdest thing.

That was a few weeks ago. It was in the men’s room. It was a man. He was sitting on the toilet in the third stall, but he did not have his pants down or anything. He looked fine, except dead. Very white and pale. Maybe in his forties. He was wearing nice pants and a dress shirt, and his windbreaker was fancy looking but a bit dirty at the cuffs. He needed a shave, but he wasn’t really scruffy, like homeless. Maybe he was recently homeless, like he’d only been out for a week, or just got to town, and figured he’d find a place soon. The stall was otherwise clean, but one of the toilet rolls was empty, so I refilled that. Supplies are the first thing on my checklist. Then I radioed the security guard. The radio does not work very well in the bathroom, but I told him there was a dead body.

He said, “Well, if it’s dead, get rid of it.”

I said maybe he should call 911, and he told me not to tell him how to do his job. Then he said, “Just get it out the bathroom. Make sure it’s gone when the mall opens. Take care of it.”

I asked how, and he said, “You’re the, uh, cleaner – you figure it out.” He actually said I was the fucking cleaner.

I get paid more than the security guards, and they don’t like that, but they say at least they don’t have to clean toilets. I texted my boss, and he texted back right away, telling me to always use the green disinfectant in the bathroom, and that I should use paper towel and not a cleaning rag. And also that I need to wear gloves to clean up any bodily fluids like blood. I know that. I always wear gloves.

I thought about calling 911 myself, but I was already five minutes behind schedule, and there was not much they could do. Also, I’m not supposed to call 911 at work. A few months ago the sign at the Chinese restaurant started smoking. I called the fire department, but before they arrived the lady there had already turned the sign off and used a fire extinguisher on it. When the fire department arrived, there was nothing for them to do, and several of the security guards were angry with me. They told me to never call 911 again. The lady at the Chinese restaurant was mad too, but she was just upset because of the sign being wrecked. Later that day she said sorry and gave me a free chocolate milk.

Lots of people at the mall are not nice to me, because I clean and they don’t think I am very smart. Except the old man at the news stand, and the lady at the Chinese restaurant. They are nice. The lady manager at the cosmetics store showed me her tits once, when I told her she was supposed to break down the boxes. After that, I always flattened them myself. She always smiled and laughed when she saw me, but she didn’t show me her tits again, and I didn’t think it was polite to ask. When a new lady manager started there, I told her that I would break down her boxes if she showed me her tits like the other lady, but she said I shouldn’t ask ladies to do that. She said I would get in trouble and lose my job and be like the homeless people in the mall. I didn’t want that, and said I was sorry. After that, she always broke down her boxes, so that was good.

Anyway, about the body. I went to the loading dock and got one of the big flat carts, and also got a couple of the really big garbage bags for the parking lot garbage cans. When I got back to the bathroom, I put one of the bags on the floor in front of the toilet. Then I rolled him off the toilet on to the bag. I checked his pockets, but they were empty except for a little change. I’m not allowed to keep anything that’s in the garbage, but I am allowed to keep money I find, if it is less than five dollars. I wasn’t sure if the money in his pocket was garbage or found, but I kept it. The old man at the newspaper stand gives me a special price on pop, so I could buy two cans with the money I found.

He did not have a wallet or anything else in his pockets. Maybe he got robbed and came into the bathroom to cry. People do that, but mostly in the ladies bathroom. He didn’t come in to get warm or get dry, because it wasn’t cold or raining or anything the night before. I have to do more mopping if it’s rained. So I didn’t know why he was in the bathroom, or dead, or how he got in when it was locked, but my boss always says I don’t get paid to worry about things, I get paid to clean, and I need to remember that.

I pulled a garbage bag over it, and got him in. Then I rolled it onto the cart. I moved the cart to the door of the bathroom, and finished cleaning the bathroom. I was twenty minutes behind schedule, but still had lots of time before the mall opened.

I thought about taking him to the garbage room, but the lady from the travel agency freaks out if there is even one dead mouse there, where I used to toss them. So I took him directly to the compactor, and put him in, along with some fluorescent light bulbs. I’m not supposed to touch them, because they are hazardous waste, but if I don’t sneak them into the compactor, they get broken and then I have to clean up all the little pieces of glass. I hope I don’t get in trouble for telling you that.

By the time I put the cart away, I was thirty minutes behind schedule. Then I went to clean the fingerprints off the glass doors at the front entrance. My boss says people don’t like to see fingerprints when they come to the mall. They like to shop somewhere clean, so I clean everything up and make the mall look nice. It always gets messy again though. Some people are really inconsiderate. One guy used to always run his hands along the brass railings just after I polished them. I haven’t seen him for a few weeks now, so that’s good.

That’s everything I know about the body, and everything I did.