When I think of the word “maintenance” my mind conjures up so many different images. What a word, what an assignment, a real task, a chore. I actually have to “think” and for one who finds it almost impossible to focus these days, that is such a tall order. Why did we chose it for our "Creative Chat" group prompt? How did we let that happen in the first place. What a bunch of nit wits we are....or are we?
Maintenance. Maintenance people. People who maintain something, somewhere, somehow. Work. I’ve always had a respect for “work”. Found it hard to see work, done by others, abused. I’m the kind of person who has to tidy up a public restroom. I tidy it up because I find it hard to imagine being the person who has the job of tidying up the restroom. That person’s job, not one that we encourage our children to aspire to one day. Menial perhaps, but all work has dignity, even if the job is flushing toilets for those who thought it beneath them in more than one way. I always flush. I always make sure that the toilet tissue goes where it is meant to go which leads me to a very funny memory of my life as a young sophisticate and probably explains a lot about my respect work philosophy
I remember it so well. Funny, because I've forgotten most of everything but this, I can still recall vividly. I was wearing a brown dress. Wool. Fringed at the hemline, straight skirt. I was all of 17 and was a nursing student. I was on a train that departed from Boston, going home to New York for the weekend. I can still see the car on the train. Old. Dark. Crowded. Kind of narrow. I got up from my seat feeling oh, so very grown up and elegant. I was one hot shot on my way to where, I still do not know. Am I even there yet? I digress. Back to the babe in the cocoa brown dress that I was sure everyone on that train thought was amahzzing. Me. Seventeen. On a train from Boston to New York. An hour or so into the trip I sashayed on to the ladies room for a quick pee. Oh Jesus, I am really too sexy for my dress.
I’m on my way back to my seat. Sexy me. Sophisticate. World traveler, all of seventeen. Alone, of course. I’m grown up. I live in Cambridge, not far from Harvard Square. I’m the envy of everyone on the train and I know it. They’re all eyes now. I am rocking my frock and my high heels are taking me back to my seat on the train from Boston to New York. Dreamy. I can’t even imagine what life has in store for me. Oh, I’m sure that life will have to open a whole new store for this tootz in the brown wool sheath. Box stores were not even on the radar but I know I inspired them. Really big time. Soooooophisticated and yet, just seventeen.
They’re all silent now. They’re bored by the lack of scenery as the train passes into the night. They’re finished with their crossword puzzles and the newspaper headlines are a thing of the past. Some of them are even drinking now. Most of them are men, lots of them, college men, doing what I’m doing…..going to New York for the weekend. Oh, am I ever glad I wore this particular dress and those pumps.
What? It cannot be happening. No, I’m dreaming. Get me out of here quick!!! Oh noooooo, it did not happen to me. Please tell me that the little old lady in the fifth row of seats did NOT just shout, loud and clear, inviting all within earshot to look up and then immediately, down and listen.
“MISS, OH MISS, YOU’VE GOT A PIECE OF TOILET PAPER STUCK TO YOUR SHOE”.