take a good look at my Rod
(originally posted 9/16/2018)
Rod is a janitor.
Not much in the way of an opening line but my first attempt (“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for Rod the janitor”) gave me the weirdest sense I’d read that before somewhere. That and it was neither the best nor worst of times for Rod.
Other than those two small objections I felt it was really in the running for the opening line but I decided that brevity, being the soul of wit and whatnot, started things off on more solid footing.
So… Rod is a janitor.
I’ll tell you that his last name is Mop (pronounced /mäp/) (which is just a fancy way of saying mop) just to get it out of the way. There is no way to ignore the fact that having a last name of Mop makes your decision to be a janitor almost preordained.
It was. Well, maybe not preordained but certainly very likely. Especially once I tell you that Rod’s father was a janitor and his father’s father was a janitor and his father’s father’s father was a janitor. In fact, as far back as you can go the Mop name was involved in janitoring. And they actually paid one of those ancestry places to do some digging and they found nothing to indicate that the first man to ever clean up after another man wasn’t named Mop.
Rod’s father swears that his ancestors, back in 1496, actually invented the mop. Before then people had to get on their hands and knees to clean. Along comes a Mop and throws some string on a stick and cleaning was never the same. “Sometimes it takes a Mop to make a mop” as they like to say in the Mop household.
Rod worked in a giant building but he was the only janitor. The place was, ironically enough, littered with superintendents, custodians and custodial engineers but he was the only janitor. When somebody had too much wine in the conference room last Thursday night and used their finger to write “Blood” on the wall you can bet they all came running up, sponges in hand, regardless of titles.
Rod calls his mop Medusa. He tells people that it’s because he pictures himself as some sort of Perseus but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
When he was little his mom got sick of finding all the baby snakes that had been born late in the summer dead when the temperature got cold. “It’s irresponsible of those snakes to have babies they know will never make it through the winter” she used to say. So she would spend her post-July days marching around the woods behind their house yelling at any snakes attempting coitus. She would flip over logs and large rocks and scowl at the writhing occupants underneath, lecturing them on parental responsibilities and thrusting a stick between their male and female parts.
When he saw the movie version of Medusa, with her wriggling head, he immediately thought of his mother. He might have been the only boy in the theater rooting for her over Perseus.
She was a stern woman. Rod’s dad, knowing that she would have none of his flowery romantic talk when they were dating, would write her long and exceedingly weird letters. What she didn’t know was that embedded in them, in code, were long heartfelt bursts of poetry. The second letter of every word, if highlighted, went into great detail about how his heart longed for her.
Rod, of course, was born in the spring.
The same Rod who stood with two superintendents, two custodians and a custodial engineer and tried to figure out how to remove the word “Blood” from the expensive, and apparently fragile, wall treatment. Wall treatments are obviously more expensive and fragile than wallpaper. The very same Rod that was the only one present who knew that “Liberty, equality, fraternity, or death; — the last, much the easiest to bestow” had been written in pen under the table. He had found it months ago and had been very careful to avoid having any of his various cleaning fluids come in contact with it while he went about his duties.
But this “Blood” could not be allowed to share a similar fate.
He looked his perplexed peers up and down and said “I got this one boys.” One by one they excused themselves until it was just Rod in the room. He knew they would have attacked it with corrosive cleaners and toxic chemicals when all it required was warm soapy water and a little patience.
At a few minutes before midnight he stood up and made his way out of the room, out of the building and into the night.
“Well that’s that sorted.”
Rod is a good janitor.
Not much in the way of a closing line but my first attempt (“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known”) seemed a bit of overkill and, if I’m being perfectly honest, wasn’t exactly true.