Factotum – Charles Bukowski
The problem, as it was in those days during the war, was overtime. Those in control always preferred to overwork a few men continually, instead of hiring more people so everyone might work less. You gave the boss eight hours, and he always asked for more. He never sent you home aftrer six hours, for example. You might have time to think.
“O.K., now, I need four good dishwashers! I have four pennies here in my hand. I’m going to toss them up. The four men who bring me back a penny get to wash dishes today!”
I tossed the pennies high into the air above the crowd. Bodies jumped and fell, clothing ripped, there were curses, one man screamed, there were several fistfights. Then the lucky four came forward, one at a time, breathing heavily, each with a penny. I gave them their work cards and waved them toward the employee’s cafeteria where they would first be fed. The other bums retreated slowly down the loading ramp, jumped off, and walked down the alley into the wasteland of downtown Los Angeles on a Sunday.
A good extra ball-bearing man is faceless, sexless, sacrificial; he’s always waiting at the door when the first man with the key arrives. Soon he is hosing off the sidewalk, and he greets each person by name as they arrive, always with a bright smile and in a reassuring manner. Obeisant. That makes everybody feel a little better before the bloody grind begins. He sees that toilet paper is plentiful, especially in the ladies’ crapper. That wastebaskets never overflow. That no grime coats the windows. That smal repairs are promptly made on desks and office chairs. That doors open easily. That clocks are set. That carpeting remains tacked down. That overfed powerful women do not have to carry small packages.
I wasn’t very good. My idea was to wonder about doing nothing, always avoiding the boss, and avoiding the stoolies who might report to the boss. I wasn’t all that clever. It was more instinct than anything else. I always started a job with the feeling that I’d soon quit or be fired, and this gave me a relaxed manner that was mistaken for intelligence..
The women’s restrooms, as usual, were the worst. Many of the women, apparently, simply left their used sanitary napkins on the floor in the stalls, and the sight of them, although familiar, was disturbing, especially with a hangover..
The men’s restrooms were somewhat cleaner but then men didn’t use sanitary napkins..
Nothing is worse than to finish a good shit, then reach over and find the toilet paper container empty. Even the most horrible human being on earth deserves to wipe his ass. Sometimes I have reached over and there’s no paper and then you reach for a toilet seat cover they’re suddenly out of those too. You stand up and look down and yours has just fallen into the water. After that you have few alternatives. The one I find most satisfying is to wipe your ass with your shorts, dump them in there too, flush, and clog the toilet..