Stop Nosin’ Through My Trash!


OK, so there’s this janitor who cleans our offices and this guy’s definitely annoying as hell. I have to vent about him now. Here I go:

I come in later in the morning than most people, which also means I stay later. Because I’m still in cubicle around 5, 5:30, I get to be present when Janitor comes up and down the aisles with his big rolling trashcan and empties all of our little satellite-cans into what I think of as “the home can.” All the separate trash gets to go home and join up with its own kind. It’s nice to think of trash that way, isn’t it? Maybe it’s just me.


So what happens is the guy comes down my row and since I am always the only one here, he says hello to me. It’d be fine if it stopped with that, but instead he looks at what’s in my trash can (or my neighbors’) and offers some commentary.

“Hmmm, ‘5 Hour Energy’… tough day, huh?” (Maybe. It’s my business, though. Why do I have to justify my use of 5-Hour Energy to YOU, Janitor?)

“Someone’s had a candy craving, huh? Look at all those little wrappers in here.” (This is if I’ve been hard at work gnawing down on some Hershey’s Kisses or something in small wrappers. Like I’m not already ashamed as hell for my gluttony… having someone say THAT just makes me want to crawl into a hole and be a loser for the rest of my life.)

“I gotta ask you: What are all these little packets I see in here all the time?” (He’s referring to empty packets of Goody’s Headache Powder, in this case. And yes, a few times a week I do use them. He, like most people, had never heard of them and wanted to know what it is, how you take it, if it tastes bad, etc… OMG, just go away… now I am getting another headache.)

“Man. A lot of people around here go to Starbucks. You don’t, though.” (Umm, thanks for noticing…? That one was a particularly strange comment, because I didn’t know how to respond at all.)

Other times, he’ll just say something vaguely creeper-esque if there is nothing worth mentioning in my trash can. For example:

“Hey, you drive that red HHR out there, right? Well, I saw you over at the Fry’s on Baseline the other day.”

He apparently lives somewhere near me, because he has since ‘seen me’ a few times now, over the years. “I saw you driving down Gilbert the other day,” or “Hey, was that you outside the Big Lots on Saturday afternoon? I thought it was you… you were buying a broom, or it coulda been a rake.”

I know I am not being singled out, which is the good news. I can hear him talking away to the other late-day stragglers in the office, too. With one guy, he starts talking sports. Another girl hears all about his grandkid, since she has a son near the same age. Clearly, he’s just trying to be friendly and chatty.

He doesn’t look like a creeper. He’s really just an everyday, blue-collar guy. He looks like someone’s Dad. In fact, he is a Dad. One of his older sons is also a janitor here, and he’s very friendly, too. But he gets it. He’s not intrusive. He just says hello or ‘have a nice night’ and that’s it. And I think that’s all that needs to be said in this relationship, y’know? It’s the same kind of relationship I have with people in other departments here… some people I don’t need to talk to, and so if we see each other, it’s just an acknowledgement to one another like, “Hi,” or “have a nice night” or something.

I am trying to avoid the Janitor as much as possible. I often scramble my things together and rush out of the office if I hear the big home-can rolling down the hall, so I’m gone by the time he reaches my desk. Other times, I put on my headphones and start typing very seriously, so he won’t interrupt me as I do some Very Important Writing Stuff… when in reality I am just typing out random thoughts in my “Crap” file. (It’s the Word file I use when I want to sound busy to any other people who might be around. I type, type, type away in there, and actually, that file reads a lot like this blog.)

Well, I’m pretty sure there’s nothing more I can do about it other than keep trying to avoid conversation with him. I could complain to my supervisor or something, but I would hate for the guy to get in trouble. He seems to have no idea that what he’s saying could be unwelcome comments… he’s just being nice. His version of nice. Which is weird for everyone on the other side of his comments. But hell, he’s just a nice guy, he doesn’t mean any harm.

A coworker here told me that the Janitor hates when people throw cups with liquid in them in the trash. Co-worker heard a whole diatribe late one afternoon about the mess it makes, how it’s just “inconsiderate” to be “lazy” and not go dump out the rest of the soda, etc. before throwing the cup in the trash. So now I know that Janitor gets a little upset when he spots a McDonald’s cup in a trash can… because he assumes it’s full of liquid. Melted ice and stuff.

To appease the Janitor and keep him from giving me a friendly talkin’-to about the liquid/trash policy, I’ve started to remove the lid and straw and throw them in there separate. Just so it’s clear I am only tossing empty cups in there. (I tend to drink everything, especially the melted ice water. Hey, it gets boring at my desk all day. Drinking or eating ice is an activity to pass fractions of minutes, so I do it.)

Cups can come in handy for another purpose, though: You can hide the evidence of Shame Eating inside! Now, if I eat Hershey’s Kisses, I save up the wrappers, hiding them on my desk until I have a reasonable amount to finally go to the effort of doing this– and then I stuff ’em all inside the cup, close the lid again, and BLAM. All Janitor sees is a cup. Sure, he might think it has liquid in it, but the lack of sloshing-around sounds probably quells his concerns when he lifts the can to toss it in the home can.

I’ve also taken a bunch of wrappers…or even one wrapper, from a Chocodile or something… and wrapped them inside a tissue, and then I tape the tissue closed so the Shame is contained within.

Yeah, I clearly think about this whole trash thing a lot. I know. Honestly, if I had never started getting commentary on my trash, I wouldn’t even have things like this cross my mind. It’s trash. You’re supposed to just let it go. Not ruminate on it and get quietly angry that some Janitor made you feel like a fat pig for eating all those Hershey Kisses, hours and days later.

So, fellow bloggers… has anyone ever commented on YOUR trash? I doubt I am the only person who has mild anxiety over throwing certain things away in certain places.




4 responses »

  1. I hate it when people put cups still containing liquid in the trash, too. I’ve even seen people POUR their cups into the trash, and THEN toss the cup. It makes me cringe- I’ve had to empty trash cans with liquid-in-the-bottom-of-the-can-liner/bag-if-there-even-is-one at previous jobs. It’s awful! It makes a huge mess and it smells! EVERYBODY should pour out any liquid they don’t plan to drink or haven’t consumed before tossing a cup, lidded or otherwise. It’s just common sense and a courtesy. I didn’t realize so many folks didn’t realize this- it’s just common sense! You work with a whole load of folks like that?

  2. Apparently, I do work with a lot of people who do that. But I think it stems from the fast food culture. If you go to a McDonalds, for instance, there really is no place to pour out whatever’s still in your cup… it’s expected, really, that you will throw it away in the trash can as-is. I know I do that in those places. But I do agree that in an office or non-food-establishment place, liquids don’t belong in the trash. It seems weird somehow to put that in the trash can here. Trash gots to be DRY, yo. 🙂

  3. We have the liquids put into the trash can problem here too. They have had to put up signs in the breakroom because so many people do it. I feel your pain about the chatty janitors. We have had a couple that I would go out of my way to avoid because everything you do, wear, say, eat they have a comment about. Honestly, when I am on my break I am not on the company’s dime, I don’t want to interact with people. I want to eat and read in peace. One particulary bad one is why I started eating in my car.

  4. Oh God, this is hilarious. Just thinking about him coming ’round the bin, wheels on the big “home can” rattling and squeaking… Then his shadow appears on the wall. You try to escape, but you know it’s too late.

    My own issues with our janitor is that I worry he’s going to think I’m being a snob for largely ignoring him while he does his job, like I think I’m too good to talk to the *janitor*. But I just don’t strike up conversations with ANYONE, no matter what their job is. And I know I wouldn’t want people trying to chat with me while I was emptying the trash. But I don’t want him to think I’m an asshole, so I try to remember to say hi. Luckily, he’s not a chatty guy. I think your janitor would drive me up the damn wall. I’d probably hide out in the ladies room when he was making his rounds past my desk.

    That is super lazy, just throwing liquids in the trash. If I have a bit of something left in the bottom of my cup, I’ll toss in some napkins/tissues/paper to absorb it. If it’s really a lot, I’ll go pour it out. In the SINK. I can’t even get my head around people POURING liquids into the trash, followed by the empty cup. The hell?

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