My new job is at the YMCA–the central branch, right off of town down and adjacent to “felony flats” to be exact. The Y’s mission is to allow everyone. They will give memberships on a sliding scale, accommodate all ages through the lifespan, and let people loiter in the lobby even if they don’t have a membership.
As such, I’ve seen some things. Lots of naked people in the locker rooms, a ton of diapers in the trash, and some weird sketchy people casing cars or digging in the dumpsters. But for the most part, people behave themselves. Except the unruly teenage boys, which they try to keep in the Teen Center or the gym.
Anyway, I’m on the janitorial crew which is fine. It’s non-stressful. It’s mindless. I don’t mind doing it.
I walked past 3 “wet floor” signs in the lobby, on my way to vacuum the 5 rugs by the less-used back double doors of the lobby on Friday. Since that set of doors is to the rear entrance, my back was to most of the people and activities in the lobby. I was on my last rug and I heard a loud crash. BUT there are constantly loud sounds at the Y: Maintenance working in the ceilings, the membership staff dropping huge piles of towels on the front desk, workout equipment being slammed, and teenage boys slamming each other around. Talking, shouting, music. . . It’s always loud, so I’m desensitized.
I didn’t turn around when I heard it–which I see now was a mistake. When I did finish cleaning the last rug and turned around to unplug my vacuum, I immediately saw my boss holding the mop and standing in a puddle of soapy water by the other set of doors. He must have accidently kicked his bucket over while he was mopping! I hastily unplugged my vacuum and dragged the cord (instead of rolling it up as usual) to help him clean up the mess. The mop water was right where people are going in and out all the time, and a major slipping risk.
I squeezed past some guy to set my vacuum by the wall, yanking my cord to get it out of the path, joking, “Man down!” to my boss. Not paying attention to anything (or anyone), I went to the front desk to grab some of their towels to sponge up the slick water. My boss was still just standing in the middle of the puddle like a deer in headlights, so I proceeded to step on the towels and scoot around to dry the scene.
Then, the big-boss came up and asked, “What’s going on here?” I thought, because there was a big puddle of water at the front door and he was worried about liability. Because spills happen, and
we I had all but cleaned it up (and because the big boss is nice and he likes me) I gave the cheeky response, “We thought we would make a water feature in the lobby.” Then, my boss answered, “This guy kicked my mop bucket over–on purpose.”
And suddenly, I realized I had missed what happened and had been reacting WRONG–I had assumed my boss spilled his own bucket by accident, I didn’t realize sinister forces were at work. The guy I pushed past with my vacuum was sitting on the chair right by the puddle. And when my boss said someone had intentionally kicked over mop water, my first instinct was to give this perpetrator a glare. That kind of crap infuriates me. Janitors don’t have a glamorous job, and it’s pretty ridiculous to heckle us or make our lives harder. But when I looked in the guy’s direction, I saw he was not to be provoked.
He was sitting stiffly in the chair, and you could see anger just exuding from him. I looked back at my boss, and saw (for the first time) his face was shaking with anger. I thought uh-oh! There’s going to be some nose-punching! My boss has some false teeth, because he lost some fighting in the past. The big-boss gave the guy several chances to share his side of the story, but like a douche-bag he denied doing it purposely, then evaded the question. Which always annoys me–if you have the kahonies to do the bad thing, have the kahonies to take your consequences. As far as I could tell, the guy felt like my boss mopped too close to his personal space, so he retaliated–who does that?!
I thought I’d better get my boss out of the scene, before he exploded so I tried to take the mop, saying I could finish the rest. He was like, “That’s OK, I got it.” And I said, “Why don’t you go take a moment.” And he hesitated and I kind of patted him/pushed him away and was like, “Go take a second, Man.” So my boss went away to cool off while I mopped the rest of the lobby. I could hear the big-boss STILL trying to find the logic for the guy’s behavior, and finally telling him that the janitors have a schedule, people are tracking in mud and we have to clean it so nobody slips, it’s not against anybody, or intentionally in their way, and here at the Y, we all need to play nice, and try to get along. Which, I’ve seen the big-boss pull people aside and give them stern lectures, I’ve heard him talk in a firm voice, and he’s kicked people out and even banned them for life. But you could tell this guy would do something terrible if pushed, so the big-boss fairly gently told him the story and just left him sitting there.
And the guy just sat there, in a tense position–for the next 2 hours! It’s an open floor plan, so I could see him as I went about my cleaning business, up the down the stairs, as I walked to the family lockers, and of course I avoided the lobby. He sat, motionless and you could read ‘rage’ from his demeanor. I thought he was probably waiting for my boss to leave so he could finish what he started. Finally, the big-boss went him to him briefly and the guy stood up, without a fight of any kind, and left. I was surprised to see him leave so easily.
Later, I asked my boss if he knew they guy, because past history would be the only reason I could imagine for such an act. My boss said the guy was a stranger to him. He said he was just spot-mopping the wet muddy spots, in the vicinity of the guy. No looks or words were exchanged. Suddenly, the guy just stood up, went over to the mop bucket and threw it over with his hands. Then the guy then told my boss, “I guess you have to clean that, huh.” And my boss said, “You know you’re on camera, right?” The the guy started rambling on about how he was a drone, he was always on camera, and he had drones following him. . . OK so something’s not right there.
The next day, the gal at the membership desk (who was the 4th person there at the time, and had looked up at the sound) said she saw the whole thing. She confirmed that unprovoked, the guy smiled and got up and threw the full bucket over, then lied to the big-boss about it. She also added that he had been sitting there for 3 hours before that happened.
So he had sat in the lobby of the Y for 5 hours!
And later that next day my boss said he was to 711 after work where he knows the clerk. Apparently, that same guy had gone to 711 and stood in there for an hour before the clerk asked him to leave. Once he was asked to go, the guy started flipping over candy and donuts and generally making a scene to the point the clerk called the police. As he was calling, the guy finally left.
So the weirdest story about an erratic person–and I didn’t bother to turn around–so I missed it! I’m always on guard outside the Y–when I take trash out, or go to my car, or when I have to walk from the corporate building to the main one. But I wasn’t aware enough inside the building. Where there’s weirdo’s, there’s potential trouble. I will turn around every time from now on. . .