The cleaning lady in my office wants me dead. I have no physical proof or a motive for this yet, just keen observation. It’s best that I present you with the evidence and allow you to draw your own conclusions.
I had the first indication that something was amiss a few weeks ago.
Each year, I make a calendar of family photos that I distribute over the holiday season. These photos generally include only pictures of my children, but every once in a while I’ll use a nice family portrait. I make an extra calendar each year and proudly display it on the cork board in my office. Sparing no expense for the calendar, I always purchase the version that comes with a handy little hole in the top center for a thumbtack.
As I proudly glanced up at the calendar that morning, I noticed something was askew with the picture. Upon further examination, I realized that someone had moved the thumbtack from its appropriate hole and had placed it directly in between the eyes of calendar me. This was an odd occurrence. I immediately beckoned for my co-workers and began a not so subtle interrogation.
They all proclaimed their innocence, and one of them even suggested I dust the thumbtack for prints. She smiled, amusing only herself in the process.
“Why would anyone want to perform voodoo on me?” I asked my co-workers, clearly shaken by these events.
“Maybe they don’t like your face,” said the snarky colleague who had suggested the fingerprinting idea.
“Who wouldn’t like this face?” I asked. “It’s angelic and innocent, with only a hint of mischievousness.”
Unable to get answers from my co-workers, I let it go. I removed the thumbtack from my portrait face and placed it back where it belonged.
The next morning, my trash can had been moved to the other side of my office. This seemingly innocuous event was anything but. As a meticulous and somewhat compulsive office dweller, this concerned me. It was at this point that I began to suspect the cleaning lady. No one else would move my trash can.
There have been a slew of other incidents along the way. Minor incidents, such as an outright refusal to vacuum my office floor, to more significant incidents, such as the word “dummy” traced through a layer of dust on the top of my bookshelf. The mere fact that there was a layer of dust on the top of my bookshelf was kind of an indictment on her work ethic to begin with. However, I was willing to let the dust settle, figuratively (it already had literally), before this not-so subliminal message appeared. Now, I needed answers.
As if a light bulb flashed overhead, it suddenly occurred to me what might have triggered this anger. Several weeks ago, after I had consumed a requisite amount of coffee, it was time to visit the men’s room. This was routine and not generally worthy of making headlines. As I approached the men’s room door, however, I saw an unfamiliar yellow janitorial sign indicating that the men’s room was closed for cleaning. This was unacceptable to me in this particular situation. Habitual about my routine, I had a standing 10:00 appointment with the men’s room. The janitor had never before closed the men’s room for cleaning at 10:00 in the morning. What would lead to this outrageous restroom cleaning change of routine?
Doing what any man in my condition would do, I entered the men’s room. The female janitor looked at me disapprovingly, but I was in no condition to negotiate or wait this out, nor was I able to run down the hallway to the other men’s room. This was a t-minus situation: all systems engaged.
She left the men’s room in anger, calling me a “dummy” on her way out. This was a matter of life or extreme embarrassment, and I simply had no choice. I felt bad for putting her in this position, of course, but the alternative was far worse – for the both of us.
That’s when the trouble began.
Today, I find myself at a crossroads. I’m torn about what to do next. On the one hand, I could apologize to her for the incident, but that would essentially be me admitting to having done something wrong, when I don’t feel that I had. On the other hand, I could let this go and just deal with the janitorial ramifications.
There is a third option, but it’s a nuclear third option. I could find a new job, far away and free from the resentment. I’m just not sure asking what time the restroom is closed for cleaning is an appropriate thing the mention during the interview process.