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Not Taking Anyone’s S*** Today

, , , , , , | Working | October 21, 2021

About fifteen years ago, I worked for an HMO (health maintenance organization) as their mail processing clerk. My job, in addition to sorting and delivering the mail within my building, was to drive around to their eight sites located in neighboring cities to pick up and deliver interoffice mail and packages, and bring mail to the post office, etc. 

One day, after returning from my rounds, I’m in the mail room placing postage on the outgoing mail when I hear a bustle going on out in the corridor. I stick my head out to see what’s going on. There are about a half a dozen employees milling about, talking sort of frantically about something. Everyone is discussing whose job it is to do a certain task; no one wants to do it, but someone’s got to take care of it.

Me: “What’s going on?”

Colleague #1: “Someone took a dump in the middle of the men’s room floor!”

The only people that can get into this area of the building are either employees or delivery staff; no patients can get onto this particular floor.

Colleague #1: “We’re trying to decide who’s responsible for cleaning it up.”

This baffles me; I figure the only answer would be the building janitors, who are employed by the HMO, not a cleaning company.

Me: “Why is there even a debate over this? Isn’t this obviously a janitor’s job?”

Colleague #1: “I thought so, but our janitor is off today, and the guy covering won’t do it.”

During all the back and forth discussion, I learn that the guy covering is from a temp agency; he was brought in to cover for our regular janitor, who is on vacation this particular week.

Me: “What? He’s a janitor! Gross as it is, it’s his job, isn’t it? I don’t get why this is such a big deal!”

Colleague #2: “Hey, guys, I just heard that [Senior Manager] asked [Temp Janitor] to clean up the mess and he refused.”

Colleague #1: “He refused? Like any of us would get away with that!”

Me: “Yeah, no kidding. What’s [Big Boss] going to say when she hears about this?”

Colleague #3: “I understand she went to him and told him it was part of his duties to clean it up and that he had to clean it up, and he supposedly told her, ‘It’s not my job to clean up some filthy dirtbag’s s*** off the floor.’” 

Just then, my boss’s manager calls me over.

Manager: “Hey, [My Name], come with me for a minute!”

She wanders off, indicating that she wants me to follow her. She heads to said men’s room.

Manager: “I hate to ask, but can you please clean this up?”

Me: “Sorry, no. My job is a mail clerk, not a janitor. The janitor should be doing this.”

Manager: “But as a mail clerk, your job has wide-ranging duties, which were explained to you.”

I point to the crap on the floor.

Me: “Yeah, but it did not ever include me cleaning up that or anything to do with janitorial duties.”

Manager: “But we’re in a spot here. I need your help. You just need to do it.”

Me: “No, this job is clearly the duty of the janitor. Sorry, you know I help out in a lot of things, and I’ve always been very cooperative with all of you here, but this crosses the line. I’m not cleaning someone else’s crap off the floor. You have a janitor on duty, and it’s clearly his job to clean this up, not mine.”

I turn and go back to work in my mail sorting room.

A few minutes later, my direct boss comes into the room to talk to me.

Boss: “[My Name], I know this is a really off-the-wall request, but someone’s got to clean that up and we need cooperation here.”

Me: “I appreciate that, but as I told [Manager], that is not even close to being part of my job. There’s a janitor here on duty. Why is no one telling him to do his job? Why is everyone on me about something that is very clearly not my job?”

Boss: “Well, he’s being difficult, I guess. His boss is the maintenance supervisor, and I guess no one can get in touch with him. Can’t you just do it? Refusing this is the kind of thing that can hold up raises, you know.”

Me: “What just a minute right there. I will not tolerate threats like this; cleaning up s*** in a bathroom is not my job. Excuse me.”

I left and immediately headed upstairs to tell the human resources manager what was going on, including the threat to withhold my next raise and whatnot. He looked at me, stunned, as if he couldn’t believe someone had actually done this. He assured me that I had nothing to fear.

I went back to work. The rest of the week was uneventful, but my boss was unusually kind with me all week. I took that to mean that the HR manager must’ve told him off or something. I never heard about the matter again. I still can’t believe they expected me, a mail clerk, to clean up someone’s s*** off the floor.

Incidentally, as far as I know, they never found out who did it.