Blown away

Mr Patel works at the hotel's front desk (I don't think the hotel has a back desk). His son helps out a lot, and Mrs Patel does more than her share of the work, too. Every other afternoon, one of the Patels vacuums the hall, and someone tends to the toilets and showers daily, I think. They run a tidy place, for what it is.

Except for the past few days, when I haven't seen anyone cleaning the place. Maybe they're sick, or on strike or something.

Mr Patel is still at the front desk, but there's yick in the hallway, and this morning when I stepped into the common john to take a shower, the tile was coated with soapy, slippery grime. Some small roaches were crawling in the corner of the shower. I also saw roaches on the wall and one on the shower curtain.

I spent my entire shower wondering at the science, because you wouldn't think roaches would be attracted to soap scum, but apparently they are.

Most of the roaches were quite small, so I thought I'd watch 'em swirl down the drain as I lathered my pits and groin and scalp, but the pipes were sluggish. By the time I'd finished my short shower, I was standing in dirty water up to my ankles, with roach corpses floating in it.

Someone ought to complain to Mr Patel, and I hope someone does.

♦ ♦ ♦  

BARTed to Berkeley to be Judith's maid again, but you don't need to skip ahead to the next entry — I'm not going to write about washing her dishes. Not today. That story's been told too many times.

There was something worth telling in the BART station, though. As I was waiting for the train home, a man was wailing, just crying out in agony, scrambling around and picking up papers.

There's plenty of wind in a subway station, as the trains push air through the tunnels. That wind was blowing papers everywhere — 8 ½x11 papers, hundreds of them. "Oh, holy Christ, no," the man was sometimes hollering, sometimes muttering, snatching up what pages as he could, but he couldn't snatch many, and what's the point anyway? He could never get all the pages back.

It was his thesis, I'm guessing, just because he was young, well-dressed, and looked like a college kid. Or it might've been a novel he'd written, or a huge report for work. I, uh, didn't ask. Also, I didn't help.

I felt for the guy, though. Doing zines, everything's vulnerable as you go to the copy shop, and you know it. I always put my master copies in a sealed folder, so they can't blow away if I drop 'em.

But also — it's 1996. Don't you have a copy on a disk at home, subway dude? Jeez, even twenty years ago, I typed everything with a carbon copy underneath, just in case.

The tragedy, the agony on that man's face, as hundreds of pages blew in every direction — pages down the tubeways, pages on the ledge above the tracks, pages on the floor being walked on, pages riding the escalators, pages on the tracks, many pages always in the air, and a page slapped against the windshield of my train, as it arrived at the station...

Stepping aboard, a page blew in through the door with me. I scooped it up and tossed it back onto the platform before the door whooshed shut, so maybe I rescued page 244, but the guy never said thank you.

"Ah, jesus, jesus, jesus," was all we heard from him, and then my train headed west.

From Pathetic Life #24
Thursday, May 16, 1996

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


  1. Weird small memory, that may be wrong. I remember this diary entry. In my memory of it, the last like, where the guy is saying "Ah, jesus, jesus, jesus," was him saying "My thesis... my thesis..."

    Am I wrong, or did you change that line?

    1. He never said it, though. Back then I thought it was funnier the way I wrote it; now I think it's funnier the way it actually happened.

    2. Which way did you write it originally?


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