Chapter 6 – Masks and Gloves are for Losers!

Some days I get to work from home. Those are the best days of all. I can get comfy on my couch with my computer and my phone. The phone is used for texting and emails only. I despise talking on the phone.

Some days I’m in a neat, clean office. Well, okay, it’s really not all that neat but it’s sanitary. Okay, to be perfectly honest, I’m not really all that thrilled with the main bathroom, but it’s just old. It gets cleaned frequently. But old bathrooms just have the slightest air of funk. Even the ones that get cleaned frequently. And there’s some dust in the main part of the office. And a little clutter. But I don’t feel like I have to burn my clothes when I come home or anything.

So, like I said, some days I’m in a “neat, clean office”. Other days I’m…not. Some days my work outfit includes bug spray that I just go ahead and spray on myself in anticipation of what I’m going to be walking into. Just because it’s easier to spray myself than to spray all the bugs. The summer heat is just ramping up here, and the humidity is stifling. Last night I got a text from our fearless office manager saying that she’d stopped by one of the properties they’d evicted someone from and sure enough, the tenant had vacated. Their trash, however, had not vacated. Nor had the rotten food in the fridge, which had started to stink after the power was turned off – a week or so ago. Did I mention it was summer? In the South?

There were a couple of properties that needed attention this morning, so I grabbed my neighbor who also works with us and off we went. She mentioned to me that she had packed gloves and wished that she had some masks.

“Gloves? Masks and gloves are for losers,” I said with a snort. After all, it’s all organic, right? And mold is like… all natural. Penicillin is mold, isn’t it? Exposure to all that nasty stuff boosts my immune system.  Keeps me healthy.

I work with some interesting people. Our office manager is about as capable a person as I’ve ever met. She crams three weeks worth of working and living into one 24 hour period. I don’t know how she does it. I don’t know why she does it. But she does it. This particular morning she decided that she would meet us at the property and help, because she doesn’t ever want to ask anyone to do anything that she’s not willing to do, herself. So just after we pulled up in front of the vacant trailer, she parked behind us. There are two more vacant properties right across from the one we were heading to, so we confiscated the empty rolling trash receptacles from both of them and positioned them outside the front door for easy pitching of trash.

We opened the door. The stench of rotting food on a summer morning curled our nose hairs. There’s always ice cream in the freezer. Always. This particular freezer contained very old Blue Bunny ice cream. There was no longer anything icy, nor creamy about it. Now, if it had been Breyers or Friendly’s ice cream, it probably would have leaked curdled goo all over me. But not Blue Bunny. No, Blue Bunny has vastly superior cartons that don’t start to dissolve when the contents go to a liquid state.

You have to be very careful with those plastic milk jugs, though. When they start to swell with rotten milk gas, they can be a little tricky. You have to handle those like live grenades.

But still, nothing I can’t handle without gloves – it’s too hot for gloves, anyway.

Until I opened the bathroom door.

These people were a special kind of unsanitary. Especially the woman. There must have been three months worth of used “products” on the floor in a teetering pile. It was at this point that I became a loser who needed some gloves. Elbow length, heavy rubber gloves. And a snow shovel.

I try to imagine the conversations that must go on while people are bailing on these homes. “It’ll just be easier to buy a new crockpot than to scrape the decomposed food out of this one and wash it. Oh yeah, same for the pots and pans. And silverware. And plates.”

I never find old glassware. Why is that? Coffee cups, sure, but glasses? Never. Why not? Where does it all go? Is glassware the only thing special enough to be washed and packed for the move?

These are the mysteries that I strive to unravel.

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