Even though my full-time gig is “doorman,” my colleagues and I occasionally help out with the garbage when the porter or handyman is sick or on vacation.
It is not high in the enjoyability department, and it tends to make one feel vulnerable for being exposed to a slopfest of potential germs and somewhat inferior.
Bag upon (stinking) bag is pushed out by the compactor, tied, and then taken out for sanitation pick-up. Every so often, like when putting our hands in the chute to remove an obstruction, we get a little dirty.
It’s boring, unpleasant work, and we don't need to look far for distraction. While I admit someone’s garbage is or should be a matter of privacy, some residents tend to throw away their unwanted items loosely inside of the compactor.
We come across stuff such as clothes and shoes that probably could have been donated, and music CDs that appear to not be scratched. There are other items like make-up, children’s old toys, the occasional adult toy, and other broken items of whatever that are not needed anymore.
We also find documents that one might think should really be shredded.
A paycheck stub I once saw was for the amount of fourteen hundred plus dollars, net. If it were a weekly check, that’s insane. If it reflected pay for every two weeks, it was still more than I make.
We find a lot of items that should be recycled: boxes, newspapers and sometimes broken glass. Granted there are some residents who have a person cleaning for them from time to time who may not really know the house rules, and other residents may not think it’s a big issue.
One thing that gives us an especially intimate look into residents’ personal lives are empty bottles of medications.
There are prescriptions for depression, heart conditions, diabetes, painkillers, you name it. Seeing these kind of things makes me realize that no matter what amount of money someone may have, we all are still human and prone to illness regardless of race, age, or gender.
I can personally assure anyone that I have never opened a bag just for kicks, unless it had something personally to do with me.
Like the time while moving a bag while not wearing gloves, I stuck my finger with a discarded syringe. Anxious at first, I was relieved to find that the bag also contained an empty bottle of insulin.
But sometimes our prying ways lead us to knowing something that may best be kept secret.
I once came across an empty pill bottle and nonchalantly glanced at the name of the medicine. It was for something called “Famciclovir,” a generic medicine used to suppress herpes.
The resident it belonged to was what I call one of the Playboys and Playgirls of the building, bringing a new companion home each week.
Ever since then, I am in the strange position of sitting silently by while this resident brings home many guests who may be unsuspecting of this resident’s condition.
Am I a bad person for not warning them?
Sadly for both of us, it’s not my business.