One of my most embarrassing on the job moments is from 1993. I worked in a little bookstore attached to an old mansion nestled in a sleepy suburb of DC. Those were the carefree days before gentrification really took hold, so sunset meant cows and pigs and yuppies went to sleep.
This old mansion was on a pitch-black 40 acre wooded lot off of a residential park road. They’ve since installed security lights all over the place, to better set the mood for microfilm hand-offs between East German spies, but in 93 there was no hint of light when night was upon us, and our livestock.
I worked a night shift – Thursday evenings 1pm to 9pm. From 4pm onwards, I was alone.
Rarely would customers come in but, as is the way of such things, I’d take a piss break and that would be when a group of people would come in a rush. The bookstore, and the society it’s a part of, has always catered to an elderly membership, so when those fuckheads came to the door and saw a “back in a minute” sign, they’d huff back to their cars, drive home, and compose a 12 page letter to my boss about how much of an asshole I was and how they’ll never shop at our establishment again. Signed: Indignant and Bored in the Suburbs.
After being chastised a few times by the boss, I just stopped taking piss breaks. But, of course, I was also mainlining caffeine. What to do? That’s right, piss in bottles. Right there at the cash register in full view of the front door, where I could see nothing but the lights of the shop reflecting back. The black-black night out there could have hidden any number of blue hair fuckheads, but I didn’t care. I was reduced to filling bottles with piss because of them. In fact, if I were forced to do such things today, I’d probably end up assaulting people and pouring piss down their throats.
So, of course, I left the bottles beside the cash register one night. Forgot to grab them as I rushed out to hurry home and hate my life in a dark corner of my bedroom. I’m not able to function unless I get a set amount of life-hating time in the corner each day. Still true now.
It was a dream in the early AM that reminded me. I jerked awake at 3am and the image of those steaming bottles of piss right out in the open was hard in my mind. At 6am, I hurried to the bookshop to get the bottles…and my boss had shown up early. She was busying herself around the register as I sheepishly lurked into the shop, frightened the shit out of her, then quietly grabbed the bottles and tucked them under my arm.
That same old mansion is where I have my current weekend job as glorified caretaker during special events. Weddings and the like. Been doing it since 1991, and still going strong. Easy money for no work, women in tight dresses, and free booze. Lots of free booze. Sometimes I just score a bottle or two of wine, and sometimes I steal so much shit it takes three trips with a fully packed car to get it all home.
Today’s wedding only has 50 guests, so there’s not enough booze lying around to steal. I always feel a bit cheated when that happens, but I’ll make my peace with it. I’ll quietly drink throughout the event, thanks to always corrupt bartenders.
More to the point, I’m sitting here thinking of all the places I’ve pissed. All the trees and forest paths. And not just that, there are places I’ve brought women. Rooms where I’ve spent the night with a bottle of something and the fancy TV used by some of the event staff. I’ve realized that I’ve had sex at just about every outside spot and, in the house, from the crawlspace to the roof. I weathered a winter storm for two days in 1994, thanks to the full service kitchen.
Used to be a time I lived much closer to the mansion and would just hide out. Up till 92, hiding out from mom. After that, just getting away from my family and life in general. There’s nothing like parading around a huge mansion at 2am and pretending it, and the surrounding land, belongs to you.
It’s been many years since I’ve spent the night in this old place. Now I live alone and find that I want to hurry back to, you know, a dark corner where I can make up things to hate about life. Mainly the fact that I have to work all weekend just to make ends meet. If there’s one thing in this world I hate, it’s working. What should I be doing today? Beating around my apartment in a torn, blue bathrobe, drinking gin and pissing into empty bottles.