Previously I have mentioned the infamous Jap Shack. This rundown building served two functions, those being an “employee lounge” and a storage shed. The contents of each section had little in common. In the storage portion there were rusty machine parts and piles of empty fertilizer packaging that had become obsolete. Housed in the “employee lounge” was a toilet complete with sink, a couple of beat-up lockers and two dilapidated picnic tables.
However, there was one obvious common denominator for the two areas. It was disgusting filth, and plenty of it. If it was humid, everything was covered with a slimy film of mud that made the simple act of walking adventurous. If there was no humidity, all you had to contend with was a cloud of toxic dust that filled your lungs.
Humidity or no humidity, there was always ample amounts of garbage spread throughout the Jap Shack. It was everywhere. The odiferous trash made the “employee lounge” a less than desirable place when lunchtime rolled around. Hell, it made using the toilet less than desirable.
Occasionally when the piles of garbage got too high and the conditions became intolerable, an employee was sent over to remove the crud and attempt to make it somewhat bearable. In 1975, on a steamy summer afternoon, it was my turn to take on the squalor that inhabited the Jap Shack.
With a half hour left in the shift I was told that someone would be over with the front-end loader in 15 minutes, so I should get my fat ass over there and clean it up. Mumbling under my breath, I grabbed a shovel and push broom and trudged down the flight of steps, making my way to the inevitable misery that awaited me.
I hope it didn’t get past you that a front-end loader was needed to remove the mounds of debris that occupied the Jap Shack.
Here is what the job entailed. Start in one corner with the broom and start shoving the garbage into piles. When the accumulation got too large, you shoveled it into the two garbage cans. When those were filled, you starting filling large plastic bags with the foul-smelling rubbish.
Once all of the garbage was collected, you had to drag it over to a large door located in the storage section. That’s where the front-end loader comes into play. First you emptied the garbage cans into the bucket. You then completed the job by tossing all of the bags on top so that the loose trash from the cans didn’t blow around as the driver hauled it away.
On that steamy summer afternoon in 1975, I never completed the job of cleaning the Jap Shack. Let me explain.
Oh, I almost finished it, but not quite. I had swept it all into enormous piles. I had shoveled the garbage into the garbage cans. After filling the cans, I shoveled the rest into the plastic bags. I did all of that. I dragged the first garbage can over to the door. All that was left was to get the other one and the bags so that they could be hauled away. Then the job would be done.
But it never happened. Something happened that prevented me from completing this horrible task.
The first garbage can that I dragged over was a large round barrel type made of rubber with a removable lid. The second one was metal with a domed top that featured a swinging door.
When I inserted my hand inside that damned swinging door. “It” happened! “It” had been hiding inside waiting to shock and send fear into my very soul. “It” was hideous and “It” was poised inside that can aching to terrorize me, its’ unknowing victim.
“It” was a large, ugly brown rat that jumped out of the garbage can, landed on my hand, proceeded to crawl up my arm all the way to my shoulder. At that point, the rabies-infested rodent stopped on my shoulder, barred its pointed yellow teeth and stared into my eyes.
I had visions of “It” springing for my jugular vein, but my thunderous scream startled the fur-covered 10” spawn of Satan and “It” jumped off me as I ran for the door.
The driver of the front-end loader had just arrived and was laughing at me. He asked why I was so pale and where was the rest of the garbage. I told him, not so politely, to do something to himself that isn’t physically possible.
“It” is why I never finished cleaning the Jap Shack.
Personally, having to relive that moment, I am now going to lay on the floor of the shower in the fetal position as warm water sprays down on me.
Until next time…from the booth.