I was crouched down in front of the fridge that was defrosted two days prior. I had nothing to do with it, nor was I around when it was thought to be a good idea to turn a refrigerator off, with no bucket underneath and no rags.
But it was not my practice, nor place to tell the office manager how to do their job. In fact they had every right to tell me to do mine, even if it often involved custodial projects like dusting the upper most shelves, which they are well aware I can not reach, or in this case dealing with the flood waters underneath a defrosted fridge. I had no tools for the project, other than see through paper towels, so thin even If I stuck the whole roll underneath I would be unsuccessful in getting rid of the amount of water that was there.
Despite both managers feeling I always looked the most glamorous and put together while working there, they always found- or deliberately chose the most disgusting projects for me to work on. Either as a way to show they thought of me as nothing more than a low-life step sister, or some sort of challenge, I never said anything back to them. Which somehow gave the rest of the staff the notion that I actually enjoyed cleaning, which meant most of the cleaning jobs often were “held” until I would arrive.
But this time, looking at the soupy waters under the fridge I felt as if I was drowning. I just sat there for a good 5 minutes staring at them, wondering what was wrong with my life- while also trying to reassure myself this chosen torture was just temporary.
Lost in thought I didn’t even realize he was behind me.
“How’s it going?” He said.
His voice was so calm, as miserable as I felt I could not even yell or shout if I wanted to. “It’s uh- well going..”
“I can see that.” He observed the progress I had made with a wad of paper towels scattered underneath the fridge.
“I feel like…a custodian.” I was frowning and probably pouting like I would have back in kindergarten.
“Nah, they get paid a lot more than we do.” He smiled.
At that moment covered in fridge gunk, and defrosted liquid containing who knows what I just laughed.
“You’re right, that does sound a lot more glamorous than this does at the moment. At least they are given the proper tools, like a mop.” He let out a small laugh.
“Do you need help in any way?” He was the only one in the whole building that cared enough to walk over and notice I was struggling. Him asking how i was doing alone was priceless.
“Well it looks like the flood waters have receded a bit, so it should be easy from this point on. Thanks though.” Even if they had not, I would not be able to endure the gossip surrounding me the following weeks if I had accepted help from anyone else, especially him. Despite him being married, I would have become the subject of a tall tale involving infidelity, starting in mopping up a dirty fridge.
“Okay but you know where to find me if you do, I was a certified lifeguard in high school so I might be able to help if the water gets too deep, even though its been a while” He smirked.
“You’re too silly. I think I can manage a bit of dirty water, but thanks.”
He smiled and walked away. I repositioned myself in front of the fridge and continued the thankless task, not feeling so sorry for myself anymore.