The Cleaner’s Statement

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 does not 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 will find from the night before, so sometimes it takes a long time. There is always paper on the floor. There is 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, with dirty words or pictures. I have a special spray for the graffiti, but it is 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. It should have been in the garbage. I put it there. Sometimes there is a condom in the toilet, but I flush it away. That is what my boss said to do. Another time I found a bra. It was brown and not pretty like the ones in the window of the store that sells ladies clothes. 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. The third stall has a bent door. He did not have his pants down or anything. He looked fine, except dead. Very white and pale. He was old, like 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 was not really scruffy, like homeless. Maybe he was recently homeless, like he had only been out for a week, or just got to town, and figured he would 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, buddy, 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 clean out the bathroom. Make sure it’s done when the mall opens. Get rid of whatever the problem is.”

I asked how, and he said, “You’re the, uh, cleaner – you figure it out.” He actually said I was the fucking cleaner. I hope I do not get in trouble for writing a dirty word.

I get paid more than the security guards, and they do not like that, especially because they say I am not very smart, but they say at least they do not 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 when it is bloody. I know that. I always wear gloves.

I thought maybe to call 911 myself, but I was already five minutes behind schedule, and there was not much they could do for a dead guy. Also, I am not supposed to call 911 at work. A few months ago the sign at the Chinese restaurant started smoking. I called 911 for 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 large chocolate milk.

Lots of people at the mall are not nice to me, because I clean and they do not 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 makeup store showed me her tits once, when I told her she was supposed to break down the cardboard boxes. After that, I always broke them down myself. She always smiled and laughed when she saw me breaking down the boxes, but she did not show me her tits again, and I did not think it was polite to ask. When a new lady manager started working 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 should not 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 did not 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 am not allowed to keep anything that is in the garbage, but I am allowed to keep money I find, if it is less than five dollars. I was not sure if the money in his pocket was garbage or found, but I kept it. It was less than five dollars. The old man at the news 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. Ladies do that in the ladies bathroom. He did not come in to get warm or get dry, because it was not cold or raining or anything the night before. I have to do more mopping if it is raining. So I did not know why he was in the bathroom, or dead, or how he got in when it was locked, but my boss always says I do not get paid to worry about things, I get paid to clean, and I need to remember that.

I pulled a garbage bag over him, and got him in it. Then I rolled him 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 maybe taking the dead body to the garbage room until later, but the lady from the travel agency freaks out if there is even one dead mouse there, where I used to put them. So I took him all the way outside to the compactor, and put him in, along with the empty can of graffiti spray and some fluorescent light bulbs. I am not supposed to touch them, because they are hazardous waste, but if I do not sneak them into the compactor, they get broken and then I have to clean up all the little pieces of glass.  I hope I do not 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 do not 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. He was in his forties. He dressed nice, but his windbreaker was a bit dirty at the cuffs. Maybe he was recently homeless and bored and at the mall a lot. He told me I worked as a cleaner because I was not very smart. My boss told me to ignore people and not talk to them and just clean, so I did that. But I would go back and remove his fingerprints, and he would laugh, and it was a lot of extra work and make me be behind schedule. I have not seen him for a while now, so that is good. I finished the day ahead of schedule, but I had to stay until the night cleaner comes. She said it looked like I had a done a good job that day.

That is everything I know about the body, and everything I did.