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Adventures in Custodial Work

 article about Adventures in Custodial Work

He brought down nearly $2000 a week from a variety of vice related activities:  selling dope, pimping ho's, and illegal street racing.  He had won seven cars in various races from Asheville to Rocky Mount.

The Lab Tech building is a giant brick hulk that sits on the Elon/Burlington border. Lab Tech is one of the main medical analyzing facilities in the Southeast.  You get a mole removed; they send it here for tests.  You get the piss test at work; the piss comes here for testing.  They run any kind of test on any type of body part or body fluid that you could imagine.  The building is a virtual breeding ground for every kind of bacteria, virus, microbe, germ, etc. in the world.

Numerous scientists work in this facility.  They are paid generously for their skills to run tests that are capable of telling if your tumor is just a big glob of fat, or if it's full blown cancer.  The facility houses some of the most impressive and expensive testing equipment that money can buy.  The machinery is real cutting edge stuff.

Despite all of the technological wizardry the building can't do everything all by itself.  No, it still requires someone to do the dirty work: take out the trash, clean up the spills, clean the toilets, and discard of the occasional hazardous materials bag.  So, amongst all of these college degree toting white people you have a handful of blacks thrown in there to take care of all the clean up responsibilities.

Barstow figured that 3rd shift would probably be the easiest.  He could check in and finish up all of his duties in about 2 hours and then find a nice quiet place to either watch SportsCenter or take a nap until his shift was over.  Hardly anyone was in the building after 9 p.m. and he wouldn't catch any static for his porch monkey-like behavior
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One night Barstow finished up his work early and he suspects nobody would bother him if he went to the cadaver room.  You know, the room with all of the dead people.  Yes, they come here too.  Mainly to see if their cause of death was drug induced.  If so, then the insurance companies don't have to pay.  If they don't test positive, well, at least it was worth a shot.

Around 1 a.m. there is a sonic boom that comes from somewhere outside the facility and all of the power instantly shuts down.  All of the doors within the brick palace close violently and lock.  Everything is on complete lockdown for security purposes.  No warning.  Just one second he is sitting there doing the crosswords and the next minute he is trapped in a dark room filled with dead bodies.  It'll probably come back on in a few minutes he figures.  At 2 a.m. the power is still off.  At 3 a.m. the power is still off.


 




"Fuck, why didn't I go to the lounge?  At least I wouldn't starve to death in there" Barstow reflects.  The fear is starting to set in.  Sure, all of these bastards are dead.  But, what if?  You never know.  Sweat begins to run down his face and he looses all feeling in his hands.  Oh, god, please help me.  What if one of these bastards hoists themselves up and says "Barstow, you no good nigger, why didn't you ever let me out of this vaul?  Now you gonna die".  Or worse yet he may have to end up eating one of these dead sons of bitches if he's locked up in here for days.

He races frantically to one of the padlocked cabinets and rips the door off the hinges.  He's looking for SOMETHING.  Anything.  Searching feverishly he comes upon a vial of Vistaril.  "Goddamn nerve pills" Barstow spits.  Well, maybe these little green pills can knock me out until the power comes back on.  Down the hatch goes 1000 mg of pure ass kicking nerve medicine.  Barstow is out within 10 minutes.

   At 9 p.m. the next night he wakes up and discovers that all of the generators have kicked in and the power is back on.  Nobody has a clue what caused the power to go out in the first place.  Barstow feels like an emancipated slave.  "Free at last, free at last, thank god almighty I'm free at last" he exhorts.  He kicks the cadaver room door open and races for the time card machine to clock out.  "Motherfuckers better not try to stiff me for overtime" he says to himself.
Barstow is just about to run out the door when his Supervisor, Mr. Heem, sees him.  "Wait!  Where do you think you are going?  Your shift starts in 30 minutes.  If you head out that door you might as well not come back in" the supervisor yells.

Barstow looks at his watch.  In his fervor to leave he thought it was 9 a.m. but it was 9 p.m.  After surviving an entire night locked up with those corpses it was time for his regular shift to start.  Barstow contemplates taking a pair of channel locks and pulling out Mr. Heem's teeth one by one, but then thinks better of it.  Who would hire someone that got fired from a job of cleaning up some dungeon like Lab Tech?  That place wouldn't fire anyone, unless there was a good reason.  No sir, I don't see any possible way that we could hire you. Besides, you are black; you people don't get any second chances.

So, fighting off the urges to cause utter carnage Barstow goes to the bathroom.  After a good bowel movement and a quick face washing he goes to get his assignment.  On his clipboard there is only one assignment for the night.  Assistance in Section C, room 5 is requested.

These places aren't just slung together.  No, there is a rhyme and reason for their organizational layout.  For example, you wouldn't want an aborted fetus to end up in the water pollution testing area.  Can you imagine the horror inflicted on some young lab technician expecting a water sample and then opening a vial containing some type of miniature space creature lying there looking back at him?  That's not the kind of thing that you can just put out of your mind.  Imagine four years of college and hard work that lead to that scenario?

Section C is where they test bodily fluids.  Blood, sperm, piss, mucous, and saliva are sent here daily.  Each room is climate controlled to make sure the testing will not be tainted by any outside elements.  Each room has it's own backup generator that will start automatically if there is a power outage situation, that way the samples will not be compromised.  We must have some professional standards damnit!


 




Barstow reports to the lab technician to see why his services are required.  "Hello, Mr. Barstow" the lab director says.  "Thank God you are here.  We have an, umm, situation.  All of our rooms sealed themselves off and the emergency generators kicked in when the power went off last night.  All of the generators worked, except for one.  We need your, umm, assistance to help, umm, clean up" the director continues.

"Alright.  What is in there that needs to be cleaned up?  Some spilled blood?  Vomit?" inquires Barstow.  "Ahh, no Mr. Barstow.  We have some, umm, feces that needs to be cleaned up" the director continues.  "Fine.  What happened?  Did some tech get stuck in there overnight and drop a load?" asks Barstow.  "Umm, no Mr. Barstow.  Actually room 5 is our feces testing area.  We have some, umm, tainted samples" replies the director.

The director tells Barstow that room 5 is where all of the shit is tested.  It is amazing what kind of information that you can derive from someone's fecal matter.  You can test for almost anything in a persons system through their shit.  "We get a lot of samples from nursing homes.  Sometimes that is the only sample they can get from the old people," the director explains.

It seems that during the power outage the previous night the emergency generator to room 5 had "malfunctioned".  As a result there had been a little accident.  You see the shit is stored in sealed canisters when the testing has been completed.  The shit is housed in these containers until the next morning until they can be discarded into the stream beside the facility.  Of course it's only after the shit has been "chemically treated" can it be deployed into the water. 

These vats of shit are normally harmless under regular conditions.  Hell, you can't even smell them because the canisters are sealed so well.  However, the previous night had proved to be a typical August night in North Carolina:  hot and humid has hell!  One of the main elements in shit is methane.  Under the right conditions methane is pretty harmless, but it is one cranky type of gas.  These 50-pound vats of sealed shit were filled to the top.  When the methane heated up the trapped gas began to expand.  Remember, there is no extra room in these vats.

What happened next was the vats, one by one, began to EXPLODE.  This 25 by 25 foot concrete room had been transformed into a total shitbox!  Liquid shit had covered the floor.  It had slathered the ceiling with a healthy coating of doo doo.  Each wall smeared with every imaginable color of shit that you could imagine: black, yellow, brown, and lima bean green.  THE ENTIRE GODDAMN ROOM WAS COVERED WITH SHIT!

Barstow's assignment was to get the room operational again for next morning's crew.  His fear of getting fired and blowing his cover lead to 8 straight hours of mopping, scraping, washing, and disposing of all the shit out of that room.  He had to stop a few times to vomit, but after the first hour he didn't even notice the smell.  It is amazing what the human body is capable of adapting to.

By 9 a.m. the next morning the room was clean and testing could be resumed.  "Thanks a lot fuck wad.  If you hadn't cleaned that room so quickly we would have had another day off from this hellhole" one of the lab tech's said to Barstow as he entered the building.  Barstow just kept his head held high as he walked to his Buick LeSabre.  "Time to go to the Waffle House" he says to himself.  He peeled out of the parking lot with all of the cleaned up shit from Room 5 Section C stored very discretely in the foam insulation of his supervisor's office.


 



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