I found a tiny doll
head in a toilet once. Someone had tried to flush it down a number of times by
stuffing the bowl with toilet paper but the head was too buoyant. I found it
bobbing on top of the water, swathed in wet white paper, eyes peering out from
under the transparent layers in frozen desperation. I pulled it from the depths
and continued cleaning.
Sanitation officers are charged with the task of making public facilities sanitary. As I scrub the blood, shit and cum off the seats, bowls and walls of the local public restrooms, people will often follow me – choosing to use the stall I have just cleaned; they must figure the fresh-smelling bowl will provide a more pleasant experience than the one I’m about to embark on. Oftentimes I want to tell them, ‘If you saw them before, you wouldn’t use them after’, but they wouldn’t listen and they wouldn’t care. Sanitation officers are invisible – invisible in high-vis.
Being invisible has its perks – I can watch people move around the parks and interact with each other. Last summer I saw a gargantuan father playing soccer with his pintsize son. What pintsize lacked in size he gained in agility, running rings around the muscle-bound ork who guarded the goal. After three unsuccessful attempts to block point-scoring kicks, Dad got desperate. The slide tackle wiped the boy out completely, leaving a tangled mess of wiry limbs on the ground, covered in grass stains and blood. “Get up,” Dad said. “And stop Hollywooding.”
I began to take bigger chances to see her up close – popping up from behind bins, peering around trees and even sitting on the park bench that faced hers, watching her run her fingers through her hair. She never saw me watching her – sanitation officers are invisible. I would follow her into the toilets as she did her daily deed – the sound of her heels tapping along the concrete would send me over the edge. Toy ponies and Kinder Surprise treats were on her menu that spring, each piece carefully collected and displayed on my cleaning cupboard altar.