I have nothing to say of any merit today. I’m cranky. I’m frustrated. I’m walking up a downward moving escalator. I’m an entrepreneur. I know other entrepreneurs have days like this, because they tell me so, sometimes as their friend, sometimes as their lawyer. So, as a bit of therapy, allow me to tell you about the 6th dirtiest job I ever had.
The 6th dirtiest job I ever had was cleaning the pantry floor at a Perkins restaurant. I was 17. I needed to earn my first year’s college tuition. I took a job as a server’s assistant at a Perkins in my home town. I wore the Perkins uniform circa 1988 – brown polyester skirt, brown and mauve polyester shirt and attached, matching neckerchief, presumably for shimmer. I wore a button – both enormous and degrading – that said “Ask Me Why I’m Smiling.” At the end of each shift, I had to wash the pantry floors.
My tools for washing the floors were a 10 year old mop and a foul yellow bucket where clean water went to get filthy. The bucket lurched on a wobbly wheel. When I pushed the bucket from the kitchen into the pantry, it would tilt on the tile and spill. If I rushed, I’d have to refill that damned bucket again and again.
Before I could mop the floor, I first had to first Pick. Up. The. Mats. The floor mats were these heavy, brown plastic squares with lots of holes so spills could fall through to the drains. I picked up the mats by sliding my fingers into the holes and dragging. My fingers, rings and watch would get caked with the gunk that had collected on the mats for the last 10 hours – coffee grounds, coffee, syrup, crouton crumbs, ketchup, chocolate milk, lettuce, ranch dressing, french fries, street dirt, bits of paper and glass shards. The only thing more disgusting than the mats were the bottoms of the bus tubs that I touched, just once, on my first day, and never again (though those bus tubs sit on the tables).
On my third day, I finished the floors, looked up and saw my friends waiting for me. We were going out. I pushed the filthy bucket, water and broom back to the kitchen. I was in a hurry. The bucket’s wild wheel caught on a drain grate. I slipped and fell on my back. I wasn’t hurt. I was young. My head had landed in something wet that broke it’s fall. I stood up, wiped my hand on my hair, looked at my hand, trying to figure out what it was. A cook was smoking in the break room just off the kitchen, watching me. He stubbed out his cigarette, passed me and said “Sausage grease.” That was the sixth dirtiest job I ever had. I tell you that story, so I can track how far I’ve come.