"Fuck," was what I said when my finger punctured through the cheap paper towel into the pool of vomit I was scrubbing. "Fuck my boss for trying to save thirty cents on paper towels," and, "Fuck that little fat girl for puking all over the floor when the door outside wasn't more than five feet away," were the only two things on my mind.
Something new popped into my mind. "Fuck that fat girl's father for being handicapped, and therefore not able to pick her mess up. Fuck him hard."
Here's me three minutes before this: I'm handing the handicapped man his change from the five dollar bill he gave me to rent Charlotte's Web 2. The handicapped man begins to hobble off when he hears his daughter's friend say, "Jamie's throwing up!" I lean over the desk for a glance. I laugh. The customer's who have formed a crowd around the vomiting spectacle give me a dirty look. I say, "What?"
In walks the frantic mother. Not the fat puking girl's mother, just a mother in general. The first words out of her mouth are, "Oh my god, somebody do something!" I'm too busy laughing to realize she's looking at me. "Get her a bucket!" demands el frantico. I look at her with a "What makes you think I can pull a bucket out of my ass" expression on my face. "The barrel!" she says, "Give me the trash barrel!" I hand her the trash barrel, and the woman intercepts the vomit. Now there's a chunky yellow sauce being sprayed all over the plastic water bottle I threw away earlier.
The vomit frenzy comes to a hiatus. By now there's a half dozen onlookers. The fat girl's sickly, pale head rises from the trash barrel, yellow streaks dripping down her chin. Then she systematically leans forward again, widens her jaw, and a new burst of fluid erupts from her mouth, some of it landing in the barrel, some hitting new spots of the carpet. The crowd gasps, I laugh even harder than before.
Why was I laughing so damn much? Well, here's the thing- When I first walked into work my boss asked me, "Notice anything different?" The first thing I looked at was his scalp. Nothing new there. He was still balding. The second thing I did was look around the store for something new. Everything was just as bland as usual. "I give up," I said. He told me to look at the carpet. I did. Like I said before, just as bland as usual.
"What?" I asked.
"I had it cleaned today".
"Oh yeah," I lied with a fake smile on my face, "look at that. You can really tell the difference".
"Yeah, I had a crew come in today, and they did the entire carpet through the whole store".
He was so proud of his new carpet job. He had probably been thinking about it all day. Chances are, the moment the fat girl's vomit splashed all over the floor, he was sitting at home, smiling, saying to his wife, "Yeah, I had the carpet cleaned today at the store. They did a great job".
Everything stopped being funny the moment I grabbed the roll of cheap paper towels, and realized what my duty was. It's hard to find anything funny when you're on your knees in a pool of reeking, fat girl belly soup. It's hard to laugh when you turn into the punchline. The only fuel I had to keep me scrubbing and not crying, was to picture the different kinds of faces my boss will be making tomorrow morning when he walks in to find a big yellow stain on his newly cleaned carpet. I giggled.