There are a few things in life I cringe to look at, the first being spiders. Spending my career teaching in an Elementary School has placed me in several close encounters of the arachnid kind.
"Mr. Williamson, look what I brought for Show and Tell!" Elmer says having cornered me outside at the school's crosswalk. Out from his Spiderman backpack comes a mayonnaise jar, home to a recently captured living breathing eight legged nightmare searching for an escape. I look through clenched eyes, knowing the vision of what lives in the jar will stay with me through the night. It will be my monster under the bed.
I discovered the second thing I cringe to look at while working as a janitor in the Widtsoe Building at BYU. I was the janitor responsible to clean the floor where the human cadavers were kept.
"You don't have to go in that room at first. I'll clean that room for the rest of the week." My boss was kind enough to volunteer after seeing my reaction to the news that I had the cadaver room. That week was a blessing. Every day I'd stop outside the room, poke my head around the corner and look down at the floor. By Wednesday I was able to follow the tile pattern up to the table where the body was kept. By Thursday I was able to glance up quickly at the body and then look away. By Friday I forced myself to look at the body for 5 seconds. By Saturday I managed 15 seconds. Fifteen seconds was enough. Having a 15 second tolerance for that grizzly sight was sufficient to do the cleaning around the table.
Tonight I had to force myself out of my comfort zone and face my third demon.
"Mr. Williamson, one of the boy's toilets is clogged." The 6th grade boy spoke in a very matter of fact voice. My stomach dropped. My right eyelid started to twitch. A cold sweat broke out over my face.
We got the boys to bed, then I went on a safari to find a plunger. With plunger in hand I opened the boy's bathroom door. I slowly walked to the stalls with the same hesitancy in step found in a death row inmate walking toward the gallow to keep his appointment with eternity. I cringed with clenched eyes as I opened the first stall door. A Reese's Peanut Butter Cup wrapper floated in the stool. I fished it out and threw it away. I almost let myself wonder why a 6th grader would put his wrapper in a stool when a trash can sat right outside the stall. I knew such thoughts were pointless. Since when did a 6th grade boy ever behave in a rational way?
I clenched my eyes and slowly opened the second stall. The clog announced itself first in smell and then in appearance. "Alien" is the only word I can find to describe the conglomeration of tissue, water and - well - you know, that I found in the porcelain bowl. Any sane person would recoil back into the stall door, put his hand over his mouth and nose, shout "Gross!" and sprint to the nearest exit. I did the recoil. I did the hand over the mouth and nose. I shouted "Gross!", but I didn't run. I was responsible. I had the plunger. It was my job to restore balance to the Force.
I'm proud to say I accomplished the task. The toilet flows free!
And now it is time for bed. The campers are tucked in. The staff are quiet and the clock shows 12:37 A.M.