Messes (Fiction)

Sitting in the green leather recliner in the lobby of Technology Today, sipping my slightly sweetened peppermint tea, I began surveillance on the “everyday” people I could approach to assist me with my dilemma.

Several prospects came into my view immediately including the front desk receptionist and the mail man.

The old lady sitting at the reception desk didn’t really look like she cared about anything in the world; she was obviously there just for the pay check.

“Ensure you have signed the form and do not forget to include proof of purchase,” she barked at the person on the other end of the phone.  As she slammed the phone down, she turned her focus on the next unfortunate soul standing at her desk.  “Number 47” she snarled as I returned to my thoughts.  She was obviously a stickler for the rules.  No, she wouldn’t do at all.  There was no way she was going to help me get what I needed.

The young man, or rather boy, who was delivering the interoffice mail, stared at the floor, avoiding eye contact with everyone.  He endeavored to be invisible – sashaying through other people to ensure that he did not touch anyone or speak to anyone.  This task was far more difficult that it seemed given the large trolley full of mail that he pushed around.

“Hey, you forgot this one,” someone hollered at him while shaking an envelope in the boy’s vicinity.

“Thanks,” the boy murmured and off he shuffled back to his mail delivery.

No, he would not do either.  He was too squeamish around other people.  He would be noticeable and that’s not the type of person I was seeking.  I needed someone who would blend in.

Off to the side against one wall, I saw him; a janitor busy cleaning the garbage off the floor.  His uniform hung off this wiry frame.  His shaggy brown hair combined with a couple days worth of stubble made him look shabby – almost like a homeless person.  He had potential, that’s for sure.  I strolled over to him and started a conversation, “Some people are such slobs, eh?”

Turning and focusing on me, he replied, “You have no idea.”

I did actually; I knew exactly how he felt to be cleaning up other people’s messes.  I knew how some people take others for granted all the time.

I had a good feeling about this person.

“I’m sorry; I didn’t catch your name.  I’m Jake.”  I offered my hand to the janitor.

“Tyrone.  But most people call me Ty,” he replied, gripping my hand and giving it a quick shake.

“Well, have a good one.”

“See you around.”

Over the next week, I bided my time watching Tyrone.  Every day, he showed up for work at the same time.  He spent his day shuffling back and forth across the building cleaning up other people’s messes.  Now and then, I would see him swipe something at the wall; it took me a while to realize that he was swiping his employee card against various check points on the floor.

I had to find a way to start another conversation and gauge his interest in assisting me.  I purchased two large coffees at the nearest coffee machine and approached Tyrone.

“Hey man, I bought you a coffee.  Sit and take a moment to enjoy it with me.”

“Nah, the boss is watching, always watching.”  The resentment emanated from him as he swiped his employee card at the nearby checkpoint.

“Mind if I walk with you then?” I asked, handing him one of the cups.

“Suit yourself.”  He took the cup and set it in his cart.

“It seems you really don’t enjoy your job,” I pressed.

“I gotta pay the bills,” was his reply.

“Yeah I know about that.  Ever thought of earning money on the side?”

“Oh, I thought about it, a lot.  Never had the energy to work a second job or the know how to get a better paying job.”


“Yeah.  Spent all my life trying to just get by; and for what?  Wife left me; kids don’t wanna talk to me; I got nuthin’ left but this job.”

“And what if someone offered you a better job?  A job with more pay than you could imagine?”

“Hmph.  And what are we talking about here?”

“I need a prototype of the new storage device that is being developed.  You’re a janitor so you could access what I need; get in and get out without anybody noticing.”

“You crazy man?”

“Not crazy, just in need.  And the people I work for will pay big bucks for this prototype.”

“Sorry man, I ain’t the one to help you.  This company’s got rules, you know.”

“Rules?  Are you serious?  Ty, you’ve been following the rules all your life and where’s it got you?”

“I’ll tell you where it hasn’t gotten me.  It hasn’t got me landed in jail.”

“Point taken.  Sorry to have bothered you.”

Damn!  I had him figured for a rule-breaker.  Guess I can’t be right all the time.

The next day, I went into my boss’ office to break the news.

“No luck,” was all I stated.

“Jake, you’re slipping; you used to be able to get what I needed within the week.  I need this prototype; Mr. D won’t wait forever, he’ll just go to someone else if we take much longer.”

“I’ll keep working at it,” I retorted as I left the office.  I was always cleaning up the messes my boss got himself into.  If he quit making promises to people and setting unrealistic expectations, I wouldn’t have to rush.

Some days, I really hate my job.


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