Looking down, I set the nozzle from “spray” to “stream.” Not because its proven to be more efficient, either, but because after you’ve been on the clock for even a mere hour you typically have some pent-up aggression you need to expel in some form or another, and blasting generic Windex-type fluid from a spray bottle set on “stream” to the metal-tempo of a machine gun against an unsuspecting window — a window, as it was, tarnished with the mad hand-prints of filthy four-to-forty-year-olds, the adhesive drool of skater kids and the dried-like-concrete spit-wads from untended teenagers, the parents of which clearly conceived them a little too close to the nearby Ravenna Arsenal, where rumor has it an ungodly amount of toxic waste is buried and has evidently saturated the soil and drinking water — is one of the more, well, ethical means of expelling this virulent monster within me that the first revolution of the daily grind has already managed to provide with ample sustenance.
And as I blast a series of hearty squirts of watery-blue upon the glass with the rhythmic violence of my right hand and proceed to grab a hearty wad of recycled paper towels and swiftly change the gears of implicit memory to engage in some highly-velocity wiping, what to my wondering ears should arrive like nails down a monolith-scale chalkboard? Why, its another customer that thinks he’s funny. Oh what infinite and ineffable joy.
“You missed a spot,” the death-wishing stranger says.
I laugh, I smile.
“I get that a lot,” I say.
But no, I want to tell him, no. No, dear sir, I did not — I repeat, not — miss that spot to which you refer. I intentionally avoided it. I left it there to give this poor sheet of disrespected and downtrodden glass character; to give an outer blemish to convey its inner independence, to distinguish it from all the other finely-wiped sheets of glass so it would not have to bear the agony of being looked upon — nay, looked through — as just another faceless, mass-produced, transparent object seemingly devoid of soul and raped of any subtle sign of individuality by the unholy trinity of this Smurf-colored shiny juice, this wad of thin, dried pulp of dead-and-shredded-and-regurgitated tree and my finely-trained, fully-experienced but nonetheless moderately-rebellious and well-versed-in-shit-job cleaning skills.
Because as you sit there feeding your already-artery-clogged and not-big-boned-so-much-as-big-assed self our well-oiled, perhaps-processed but undoubtedly-genetically-engineered and forced-into-cannibalism fried-frickin’-chicken adored with similarly genetically-engineered vegetable matter and squeezed between a sesame-sprinkled bun in that big ol’ booth behind me, you should not have the privilege to stare out at the natural world our civilization is eating away like a cancer from this climate-controlled box as if nothing stands between the two of you.
So let that smudge be a reminder of the collective wall our insipid species has chosen to erect, no matter how otherwise-transparent this particular, specific one is. The only thing worse than biting the hand that feeds is mistaking it in utter ignorance for the offering of said hand. Consider that spot I missed my act of splashing water in the face of somnambulist dumb fucks like you.
Later in the day, I’m cleaning the big window in the dining room. From behind me, I hear it again, this time from some old lady.
“Missed a spot.”
I turn around, giving that fake smile, that fake laugh, the forced words I try my best not to make sound as if their forced, “Yeah. I get that a lot.” The look on her face, though, is one of seriousness. She really is informing me that I missed a spot. The two-hundred-pound lady with a face like she just sucked the life out of a tremendously-tart lemon like an amphetamine-fueled vampire actually takes time away from feeding her lard-insulated face in her food-fetish frenzy to inform me that I missed a spot.
“Oh. No,” I say with a smile and a well-trained masque of understanding, “that’s on the outside of the window.”
She doesn’t care. I should be thankful for her insight — that’s what the look on her stupid, aged face communicates.
Sweat dripping from my head to the floor beneath me like the relentless rain from a Biblical-scale storm, unwarranted efforts at perfection entirely overlooked by prying eyes of an unasked-for audience, I want to put this colossal waste of space in her rightful place. What does this three-dimensional allegedly-female equivalent of Cartman from South Park do for a living? Regardless of her vocation, how would she like me — a mere civilian to her workplace, mind you — to lounge around like I owned the place, offer critique, feel free as a bird under the influence of Ecstasy to point out the inadequacies in her underpaid slave labor?
Even given considerable stupidity wed with good intentions, how could she possibly think such a comment would benefit me? It would be just the same as forcing a dollar on a vagrant who, unlike the countless who do, did not beg for it, even show a sign of wanting it, and is as insulted by the act of having it forced upon him beneath the giver’s masque of good will as he feels obligated to take it in fears of being seen as ungrateful and denying the giver the boost of ego and convincing illusion of doing good in an effort to counteract the giver’s all-too-real path of ceaseless, greedy, self-indulgent shitiness.
In short, it is an indirect way of saying, “You are incapable of doing for yourself, so let me do for you, or direct you how to do it.”
Its just another manifestation of arrogance. A means of giving your ego another stroke in the long road to getting it purple-veined and rock-hard so you can blast out your self-love like a sky-high erect and erupting volcano bellowing its hot and dirty air high into the atmosphere as it quivers in the act of launching its scalding, scathing lava all over the face of the now-defiled earth.
I don’t need your charity. I didn’t ask for it. I don’t need your guidance; I’m no sorcererless apprentice. I’ve got a boss, hog, and its not you, so seal your squeals. Go back to your trough-like tray of consumables and let me do my job in a silent, vague semblance of peace.
The following day, I’m outside on the step-ladder, cleaning the windows outside the restaurant, which are still coated in some areas with the hard-to-remove, adhesive-like marks they were spotted with when we opened this rebuilt store just shy of a week ago. Its the first time I’ve cleaned the outside windows and I’m sweating like the pigs slurping and scarfing the slave-made slop inside should be. And as I just finish up spraying and wiping the window and proceed to survey my work to see where it needs touch ups, I hear a distant cry.
“Missed a spot!”
From atop my ladder, I look behind me, and see an old man, his hands clasping the wiry hands of an old woman, undoubtedly his wife of many years. They walk side-by-side on the sidewalk a considerable distance behind me.
A part of me hopes he dies a slow, agonizing death and his poor wife has to watch it.
I laugh a little laugh, smile a little smile. “I get that a lot,” I yell towards him.