July 22, 2007

"I pushed open the door and saw blood first..."

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The problem with San Francisco is the weather. It’s just too good. Bums from Fresno, Los Angeles, Portland, and everywhere else eventually funnel down to the city by the bay to settle in. No winter really, hardly a hot summer to speak of, just a little rain, and most of the time it never cracks 80. If you ain’t got a roof, you can’t do much better.

We’d tried everything at Virgin to keep the bums out of our bathroom. We didn’t even want the damn thing, but since we had a café on the third floor we were under orders to maintain a public restroom. In San Francisco a public restroom was little more than an open invitation for bums, gutter punks, and crack addicts to get a free shower and a place to sleep it off, while the rest of us 8-dollar-an-hour jerks had to spend the our shift cleaning the thing out with a bucket of bleach and trash bags wrapped around our shoes.

When I was finally promoted to manager, somehow the restroom was slid into my stack of responsibilities – right there with VHS and porn. I was king of the untouchables. You might look at it and say that maybe I was being punished for something: a dead medium that nobody was buying; pornography, which everyone loves, but nobody really wants to sit through the distributor catalog and decide whether you’re buying ten or thirty copies of Ass Violators 6 (we bought ten, they sold out, I had much to learn); and the dankest, darkest corner of the Virgin Megastore.

For a while my crew used to draw straws to pick the schmuck who had to clean our little slice of heaven at the end of the night. Often I’d volunteer, showing the troops I wasn’t any better than them even though I made their schedules and a whole $1.50 more an hour. Every night was the same; put on the gloves, tie the trash bags around your shoes, dump out the bleach water on the floor and on the mop. You mopped everything. You mopped the floor, the walls, the sink, and the toilet. Bleach is supposed to kill everything, that’s its job, it’s what it does.

To strike pre-emptively, we eventually worked out a key system. Surely you have encountered this: take the key to the restroom and tie something incredibly fucking huge and brightly colored to it so that it can’t be flushed or stuck into a pocket. This also made it easier to identify who exactly shit on the walls or tried to flush their needles down the pisser. For the most part it worked, and we built a tally of “customers” who were no longer allowed in our store based on their bathroom decorum. Months passed. We were winning.

Al came into my office ghastly white; he stammered a bit and tried to point south or southwest, it was hard to tell since his arm was shaky and moving back and forth like a weathervane in Kansas. I put down the latest release sheet from eXtreme Productions and asked him what the matter was. Al did his best:

“I gave a girl the key to the restroom… and… she hadn’t been back in a while… so I took the master key and went in to see if maybe she left it in the stall on her way out.”

I got up and made my way across the floor towards the restroom, Al leading the way like Charon across the Styx. I pushed open the door and saw blood first. I’ve never been good around blood, and blood on chipped white tile is the worst way to see it. In the corner was a girl, young, wearing a white patterned dress. She’d cut her wrist open and slumped against a wall. I thought about bleach.

Al had already called the paramedics, I made radio calls to the upper manager.

Later that evening I was on the sales floor with my boss, leaning against the staircase that looked down to our main floor. With his crisp British accent Lewis interrupted our conversation with a curt “Oi, fuck me…”

He nudged me and pointed to the campaign banner.

It was the Virgin Sacrifice Sale.

contributed by B. Foote

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Omg I laughed. That's terrible! I'm going to hell.