The day I became lazy

I became lazy many years ago, when I was 16 years old, working at my first job at a grocery store. Being the new kid I was always answering the call for "cleanup on aisle whatever" when there were broken jars of jam or spaghetti sauce or whatever.

One afternoon I was told to clean up the men's room, and the manager added, "It's pretty bad." Pretty bad means, someone had taken a big semi-wet dump right on the floor, and then used their own shit to write FUCK on the wall. big brown dripping letters, mostly slopping down the wall to the floor.

I skipped right past wondering WHY someone would do that to wonder HOW he could even do that while the store was open and pretty busy.

And what a sight, and what a stink.

Considering that it was poop wiped onto the wall with two fingers, the lettering was quite neat, and surprisingly legible: FUCK. The artist had the good sense to wash his hands afterwards, and he'd left the sink and mirror a shit-spattered mess too.

I put up the "restroom closed" sign, went to my boss, and said , "Why am I the person who has to clean this shit?" I even offered a compromise — I'll do this if you get someone to help me so it's a two person job. but I don't want to spend an hour alone in that poopy stinking men's room and scrub shit off the walls.

The boss was very nice about it, apologetic even, but he said "We don't have the staffing to spare two people for the men's room." So I went back and started cleaning shit off the walls and floor and sink and mirror.

Soon, though, I stopped, needing to step outside the john to breathe and think. I was new on the job, but I'd been there long enough to know that when I finished cleaning the john, no matter how much it sparkled, the manager would come in and tell me I'd missed a corner.

My dad said to always do your best. It'll pay off and you'll get ahead, he said, and if not you'll at least have the pride in knowing that you did the best you could. So until that shitty day I was trying to be a good apprentice worker drone.

But I stood there, weighing whether I really needed this job and what my dad would say, and decided the answers were no and I don't care. I quit, and someone else cleaned the shitty words off the wall.

That's how I became lazy. My cheapness came as a byproduct, since I had no job and no spending money.

Since then, being lazy and cheap has become a matter of principal and pride, a code I still live by. I have my limits, period. Sure, sometimes I break my rule and work harder than I should, but it's my choice when and where, and especially why.

Remembering this years after, obviously, someone has to clean shit off the men's room walls sometimes. I'm not saying I'm better than doing that work. But maybe don't tell some 16-year old kid to clean up a stranger's shit for minimum wage. Give him hazard pay, or an extra $20-bill, something.



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