Old, angry and in need of a toilet…

Sometimes things happens that turns out to be more important than it seems from the beginning. Like if your new neighbor ends up becoming your best friend. Some of us thinks: “if you did not move in here, I would never met you!”. Others of us does not think about it much. I want to write about one time when I understood more and more. And how good it could be to think about what happens.


Yesterday I cleaned the big store. It’s my job for the summer. It takes three hours of heavy labor, it is stressful. When I came home I sat very tired on the couch and had some time to think about the day. Suddenly I said “Something strange happened at work a few days ago. I got yelled at by an old man”.

Two days prior to this I was cleaning the only toilet in the whole store, very much in need of cleaning. Me and a colleague of mine was in the middle of cleaning and fixing a broken dispenser, when a person turns up at the door. Sometimes this happens, I have never understood why some people tend to look at us work. But we continued to clean, it is our job after all. No one wants to do their businesses on a filthy toilet anyway. When this person walked into the toilet with us (without a word), it became weird. Did this person need glasses? Just then, he started to talk. Loud and pushy he started to yell that he had worked in service for many years, and we should immanently leave the toilet when he came as a costumer, and leave him alone! He said he would tell the store about our behavior! Whatever we said, it did not help. It was a choice; starting a fight or just leave. I choose to leave, I do not get paid to fight with people. And if he wanted a filthy toilet, who am I to argue.

I could continue discussing service, but my point if view is that I did not take on a cleaning job because I like to handle people, but because I like to work alone. I do my job well, but I like to not be there when you enjoy the toilets and stores I clean.

My point is; this situation made a permanent mark. In a way I had not expected.

The man was about 80 years old, big and with grey hair. He thought it was okay to yell at grown up people doing their job for the costumers benefit (him), yell at cleaners, yell at younger women. And he was wrong. It’s not okay. The world has moved on. I got angry thinking about this, but what to do. Forget it. Everyone has bad days at work. That’s life. Move on.

Yesterday I was at work again at the same store. That was nice, I knew everything about the job, nothing I couldn’t do. I did what I was paid to do, and drove off. In my car I realized that while I was cleaning, I had jumped a little. I got off my routine a bit. I wondered why, but I didn’t think much about it. I had more work to do that day.

At home that night, when I sat on my couch and remembered the toilet incident, I realized why I had jumped a little. I had jumped whenever old men with grey hair had passed me. Had the toilet man given me a trauma?

These jumps had made me come of my routine. I got an adrenaline rush. Made me anxious. Made me frighted. Imagine thee hours of expecting old men yell at me. He had very much worsened my job. I had a safe and mentally easy job, but after him I had a unsafe and mentally hard job.

This is easy to ignore. Just a few jumps, what’s that! But if I return to the very same store and the place is making me nervous and fidgety, its not just a few jumps. The job is a lot heavier being anxious all the time.

Now this is something that just happened. It’s not really rocket science. None of this will change humanity’s history.  But think, what if this happens a lot to many people. What if you got yelled at daily? You would not become an astronaut, you would become scared. What if all the frighted people could put their energy in science instead? And above all, how much more happiness would they feel not being scared all the time? That would change the world.

I told someone this story last night. If I had not started to talk about it with someone, I would not realize it’s impact on me. Changing my everyday life. And now I do not feel it anymore. I am not jumpy. I’ve talked about it, and it got better.

The old man’s complaints about us; we never heard anything about it. My guess is that the young female employees in the store reacted as me and my colleague did; young women tend to meet these angry old men more often. We sigh and move on. As good as we can.


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