Tuesday, September 9, 2008

NEW Adventures in the Life of Brenda #11: $350 Fear

As some of you may have read from earlier, I have taken on the care-taking position for half our building. This requires cleaning the entryways every morning, vacuuming the halls and stairs once a week, picking up garbage, and sweeping out the storage lockers. All this for a $350 rent credit. Yesterday I took my keys, one for each floor's storage rooms, my broom, dustpan, and garbage bag and went off to scoop up dust bunnies. Floors 1, 2, and 3 were pretty clean and only required minimal sweeping. But I knew the real test was coming up. The basement storage room. When our manager showed me the door to the basement storage room, I noticed it was adjacent to the boiler room (how CREEPY is that name??? BOILER room). Since Abi was in the middle of a nap, I asked Jon if he would be willing to accompany me for a few minutes to the basement for "moral support." Like many people I am afraid of spiders. Who wouldn't be after watching Arachnophobia and having a giant barn spider drop into your hair while biking around in the garage as a child??? But even more than that, I also have a rather illogical and ridiculous fear. I am afraid of pipes. Yes, pipes.

In my parent's centenarian house, the furnace room was quite possibly the creepiest room ever built by human hands. As a child (and an adult) I called it "The Pipe Room." The walls and ceiling were covered with pipes, and since it resided in the basement of a hundred-year-old house, these pipes were usually intricately connected with approximately one million cobwebs and who-knows-how-many barn spiders (BIG yellowish-transparent spiders that can get to be the size of a votive candle holder). AND the light to the Pipe Room was a hanging bulb, which can only be illuminated by pulling the string hanging from it. The Pipe Room also had the sump hole in the corner to keep the Minnesota water table at bay. So there was always this dripping, musty quality to the air. So imagine being a child and your mom asks you to run to the basement and retrieve a few canning jars from the furnace room. FROM THE PIPE ROOM. You walk down the stairs to the basement, so far so good, and approach the door. You open it and it is black as pitch inside. You grope around with your hand in front of your face looking for the string to the bulb, hoping you won't accidentally grab a spider's web or fall into the sump hole. And then when you DO illuminate your surroundings with the ancient click-click of the yellow string, you see all these little eyes staring at you from all the spiders that want to jump on you. Well, you know what happens then, don't you? You forget all about the canning jars and you run screaming from the room waving your hands frantically to keep all spiders from becoming tangled in your beautifully long brunette locks. And now you're a freak who can't endure exposed pipes of any kind.

Jon walked me down to our building's basement with broom, dustpan, and garbage bag in hand. We unlocked the door (rather, I made him unlock the door while I hid behind him) and turned on the light. Alas, it was as I had feared and WORSE. Faint yellow light trickled through the dusty air from cobweb-laced light fixtures hung from a low ceiling. A low ceiling, every inch of which was covered with exposed pipes. I don't know what Jon saw, but this was what I saw:
From a cleaner's perspective, this basement storage room hadn't been swept in years. Leaves, dirt, cobwebs, shells of dead insects & spiders, and animal droppings were built up in the corners and piled on the window ledges. I couldn't help it; I started to cry. I could barely get through the door. Jon led me in and held me while I swept (even though he was laughing at me the whole time for being afraid of the pipes, he still gave me the physical support I needed to sweep even the darkest of corners). He spurred me on by thanking me for taking on this position because it lightened the load of work he would have to take on week by week. Eventually I started attacking the filth with meager gusto. "You ugly pipe, I'm going to sweep all the nasty - EEEK! Throwing spiders at me? We'll just see about that...take that! And THAT!"

After about 15 minutes, I had filled up half the garbage bag and decided I was finished for the day. Jon was proud of me, and I was proud of myself. We locked the door and the pipes and the spiders all behind us. "It's not so bad, now," I told Jon (and myself), "I can go down there by myself next time." I figure this is a labor of love. The other jobs are cake, and if I can conquer my fear once a month for the sake of my husband, I will do it! And I will do it happily and courageously!!!


Jenny said...

I have some comment to make like, "Don't worry, the pipes are just as scared of you as you are of them"...

Sara said...

lol I like Jenny's comment.

Deb said...

Brenda, you are hilarious! I love your posts. :)