I was on community service this week. I call it community service but it’s in fact a chore wheel where the six flats in the tenement take turns in cleaning the common areas. I hate doing it more than I reasonably should.

There’s no logic in my thinking, still, I can’t help telling myself, as I swing the mop, Damn, I have a PhD degree and here I am, cleaning after other people. Not so much after myself, as I’m not the one who drops chewing gums and corn at the stairs.

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The doctor as a charwoman

As I was scraping the flattened chewing gum stuck on one of the stone steps, I composed a poem in my head. After all, I’m still a doctor of English Literature. I’m also the concierge, which gives me the privilege to stick signs on the board. Like this.

WIPE YOUR BOOTS
KEEP THE COMMON AREAS CLEAN
KEEP THE DOOR LOCKED AFTER 8 PM

NO SHOUTING
NO SMOKING
NO LITTERING
NO LOITERING

NO CHILDREN
NO PETS

DON’T BE A PIG, BE A PERSON
OR JUST KEEP OUT

That’s it, that’s my poem. I’m proud of myself, how well I’ve cleaned everything. You could eat from the floor (if you don’t much mind getting hepatitis). If I catch anyone dropping food or fags on the stairs, I’ll beat them up with my mop.

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Posted by Mara Eastern

I'm a sardonic blogger, snapper, scribbler and rhymer; a virtual space invader who indulges in cheerful negativism, morbid self-deprecation and bleak humour.

26 Comments

  1. I like the poem! It’s to the point and no BS. Why won’t the owner hire someone to do this work?

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    1. Aw, thank you! The landlord tried to hire a cleaning service, but there is only one in the area and they weren’t interested in the job.

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      1. How stuffy of them! Apparently the company doesn’t need the money…

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        1. Well, at least we all take lessons in humility while cleaning…

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  2. Ha! And this fits right in with today’s WP Daily Prompt: Jolly. Love this, Mara! Keep up those tidings of joy. But I agree with John (above). Isn’t there a maintenance person to do this clean-up?

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    1. I’m pleased that you find the post jolly! It was meant to be something fun for a Sunday morning 🙂

      The only cleaning service in the area isn’t interested in the job, so we are left to our own devices…

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  3. tabbyrenelle 10/12/2017 at 5:09 pm

    yeah, Gandhi’s wife got mad when he said she like everyone else had to take her turn and clean the latrine, ‘cuz everyone sh*t there, more or less. I paraphrase… but so, Good on U for doing the work. 🙂

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    1. Fair enough if he took his turn as well. If he didn’t, ahem, he loses a turn.

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      1. tabbyrenelle 14/12/2017 at 7:31 am

        Really Ellen? Gandhi loses a turn? He didn’t sacrifice enuff for U, huh? That whole giving up of his western clothes and walking among the people, teaching how to get salt and spin cotton to the poor so they could actually create an income, and creating peace between Muslims and Hindu, fasting in active protest, and non-violently at that, wasn’t enuff?
        He prolly cleaned the latrine in his life time, I’ll let U research that, tho.
        Peace to ya’ll. 🙂

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        1. Oh I’m sure Ellen was joking, just a little fun to relieve the bleakness around us 🙂

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          1. tabbyrenelle 16/12/2017 at 12:39 am

            I prefer to let Ellen speak for herself, Mara.
            Sorry to hear you are feeling bleak.
            Maybe tap into some Rob Garza deephouse disco… and ya’ll will get yer groove back. 🙂

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          2. Ha! I didn’t think of trying disco. I might as well take the hint!

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          3. tabbyrenelle 19/12/2017 at 6:18 pm

            I’m not really a “hinter.” I’m fairly bunt. 🙂
            I hope U have sum fun Mara.

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          4. I like blunt. It’s easier this way. Have a fun day!

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          5. tabbyrenelle 16/12/2017 at 12:43 am

            here’s sum wintertime dance mix for U. It’ll lift the bleak… i promise. Great for doing housework to, or backgrounding when you are writing the greatest novel for english lit. class ever known: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ah1I_yF1dzA

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          6. I’ll go with using this as a background for cleaning! It sure makes one move a bit faster…

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          7. tabbyrenelle 19/12/2017 at 6:20 pm

            Yeah, if it doesn’t make you dance with yer mops and brooms, there’s no hope for the commons. 🙂 egads!
            Thanks for your replies.

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          8. Oh I always dance when cleaning! I do it to convince myself that I’m having fun.

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          9. tabbyrenelle 21/12/2017 at 7:55 am

            okay Mara… we will talk about the Zen of cleaning later. 🙂 You rock sister-woman.

            Liked by 1 person

      2. tabbyrenelle 14/12/2017 at 7:56 am

        one more thing Ellen, Gandhi was assassinated as you well know, a sacrifice far beyond cleaning bubble gum off the commons pretty patio or sh*t stains…
        the fruit of his action, he will never know…
        and so I hope you don’t forget… particularly after the British history with India.

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      3. Ha 😀 I’m inclined to think that he did take his turn, in any case, it’s quite an amusing thought 🙂

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    2. Oh that’s a nice story that perfectly complements my thoughts! Thank you for it.

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  4. I thought you cut a fine figure as a charwoman….beautiful poem to the point and with no room for interpretation…I was wondering if you have taken the opportunity as the learned concierge to deck the halls with tinsel for the Christmas season, now that would add a certain touch to your tenement.

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    1. Haha, thank you for complimenting my charwoman skills 😀 I decorated neither my home nor the common areas for Christmas, I mean, the corridors are stone, metal and tile, which is perfect when you want to avoid fire hazard, so why would I put flammables out there? I suspect tinsel burns rather well.

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  5. Community service keeps us all humble or something like that.

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    1. Exactly. Something like that.

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