All during the time I spent recently narrowing my life’s view to that of Sisyphus, a distant predecessor, who employed a rock as his challenge generating device rather than, as I did, two hundred feet of spilled olive oil, I kept thinking that I remembered from the other time that I had stayed in the apartment, whose hall appeared to be the place I would spend eternity, on my hands and knees (remember? it had been the site of that now laughable previous achievement, my first uneventful first time entry into a new apartment) that a cleaning service periodically came in and, among other things mopped the hall and shampooed the carpets. I found no immediate solace in that possibly accurate memory. I mean it wasn’t as if I expected them to show up like the cavalry over the hill just at my time of need; it was just something that I thought that I remembered. It did have the additional ameliorative aspect that, if it were true, in the unlikely event that I ever succeeded in escaping being Sisyphus, and succeeded in completing some sort of triage cleaning miracle, the professionals might appear in due time and complete the job leaving nary a trace of that which had occurred on that fateful Saturday.
Well today due time did indeed pass and the cleaning people did indeed appear. I didn’t know it was the cleaning people when I first became aware of them. All I heard was a lot of shouting between what appeared to be two men. Obviously I had no idea what they were shouting. If I had, I suspected retrospectively, I was saying something such as “what kind of twisted pervert would coat the halls with olive oil”?
It wasn’t until I had opened the door to make my exit for my daily walk and image gathering exercise that I realized it was they whom I thought I remembered. It was the cleaning people.
What caused me to know immediately that this was the case was that the hexagonal terra cotta brick flooring that had still had telltale vestigial smudges of oil here and there – telltale at least to someone such as I who had had an intimate relationship with those smudges for their entire life span; I might even have claimed to have had a degree of fatherhood for their existence – was still glimmering wetly with the sheen of recent moppedness.
My door is the first door in the hall on my floor. There is another door across from me but it is slightly down the hall from me. Then the hall goes off down itself for how far I know not – I have been unwilling to ever go down it beyond my doorway for fear of finding myself trapped in pitch blackness due to capricious, or perhaps sinister, activities of the spirit-keepers of the little glowing things – but it is quite a long hall; I can see that in the brief durations when the little glowing things have been convinced to illuminate the area. So the still glimmering sheen (I really like that description; I think I’ll keep it) should have extended on down the hall beyond my door and be visible up to its vanishing point or until the lights went out, whichever occurred first.
But it didn’t.
Remember at the very outset of the disaster when I briefly flirted with the idea of just leaving the mess and disclaiming any knowledge in the unlikely event that anyone ever asked? And remember that one of the two reasons that I kept trying to clean it up – the other being fear of my mess causing someone to slip and kill themselves – was that the mess itself stopped right at my door in the form of one of the two significant lakes of olive oil that I had been inadvertently able to create? And with the mess at my doorstep, so to speak, it seemed that I would be quickly identified as the culprit.
Now the glimmering sheen stopped at that very self-same doorstep. When I came back from my three hour walk I was completely ready to find a note pinned to my door: “nous accusons, Monsieur le Culprit!”
But it wasn’t there. Maybe the sheen dried before anyone had a chance to see it, with its accusatory termination at my doorstep. Maybe only the cleaning people know for sure.
And the stream of olive oil down the center of all of the carpet between the outer entry and my doorway had been shampooed away.
Could the whole episode just have been a very bad dream based on my imperfect knowledge of Greek mythology? I think I will take that view henceforth.