Crap chats with Randy, a Covenant Woods maintenance man, are nothing unusual. When I make my morning rounds, he’s usually tossing bags of garbage into the dumpster. The bags he tosses often contain soiled Depends. Some mornings the odor is more pungent than others.
“Come take a whiff. It’s particularly aromatic today,” Randy said.
I politely declined. Randy kept on talking crap.
“Wednesday, we got a call,” he said. “Somebody shit in the elevator. He not only shit in the elevator, he left a trail all the way down the hall to his room. I can’t tell you who it was, but the trail stopped at his door. He says it was probably a dog. That wasn’t no dog crap. James and me are going to have to become shitologists.”
When a man does a crap job, cooler weather is a blessing. And Randy was duly grateful for the morning chill that kept the bugs torpid.
“I ever tell you about dog dick gnats? They’re terrible down here in the summer. They get in your mouth and fly up your nose. We went to a picnic in south Georgia a few years ago; they get worse the farther south you go. This guy, he was a Yankee, couldn’t hardly eat, the gnats were so bad. ‘What the hell are these damn things?’ I told him. ‘Why do they call them that?’ ‘See that dog over there? See what he’s licking? That’s where they come from.’ The guy didn’t eat any more.”
I was enjoying Randy’s jovial crudity, but he ran out of garbage and went off to engage in sweeter smelling tasks. My day went downhill from there. A couple of squandered hours later, I got on the Covenant Woods bus to go out to lunch. The topics of conversation on the bus were more proper. The tone, more mean-spirited.
“Yesterday, a woman I know wished me ‘happy holidays,’” Violet said. “I told her to wish me a ‘merry Christmas.’ ‘Happy holidays’ is not acceptable.”
“That’s right,” another woman said. “It might be OK before Thanksgiving, when they want to wish you a happy Thanksgiving and a merry Christmas.”
“No,” Violet insisted, “not even then. Before Thanksgiving you should wish people ‘happy Thanksgiving;’ that’s all.”
And so, in the spirit of Christian narrow mindedness, we headed to lunch at The Rose Bakery in Pine Mountain. It was a pleasant place, more of a quaint store than a restaurant. Everyone agreed the food was good, the service was good and the price was reasonable. Later, Katherine changed her vote. At dinner, she went from table to table in the dining room, telling anyone who would listen – and badgering everyone who wouldn’t – that the food was barely edible, the service deplorable and the cost exorbitant. Stimulating dinner conversation, indeed.
A half hour later, in the friendly confines of my apartment, I was backing the buggy out of the bathroom. Wham! The front door slammed against the back of the wheelchair.
“Hey!” William shouted from the hallway.
“What are you doing?”
“Trying to get out of the bathroom.”
“Let me in.”
Then Richie joined the conversation from down the hall: “What are you doing, dumbass?”
“Looking for you,” William said.
“That ain’t my room.”
“Oh,” William said. “Hey, Tom, I’m sorry,” and he staggered on.
My mama said there’d be days like this.
Thankfully, there haven’t been many.