December 4, 2020 – Cherry season is the ‘pits’!

There’s a part of me that’s actually grateful I was laid off because there were certain aspects to the job that I had that were particularly unappetizing. I worked in a facility that provided activities for seniors. They had exercise programs and games as well as knitting and crafts and such. They also served lunch each weekday for a really reasonable price. The lunch generally consisted of the 4 basic food groups and sometimes it would be supplemented with cookies or fruit. I live in an area known for its fruit orchards. There are cherries and pears and peaches and apples and plums and all kinds of delectable fruit to choose from. Oftentimes, local farmers would get a bumper crop and bring a lot of their extra fruit to the facility for the seniors to enjoy. I would usually get excited when I saw people pull up in their pickup trucks and start carrying in boxes of fresh fruit for all to enjoy. But when the farmers showed up with heaping piles of cherries? Holy crap! Bar the doors! Don’t let them in!

You know the saying, “You can’t eat just one?” It’s a slogan for one of the famous potato chip brands. That saying could also be applied to cherries. If people could eat just one or even two cherries, rather than running to bar the doors I would have gladly waved the farmers in and even held the doors open when they would stop by to ‘share their bounty’. But that’s the problem. No one can eat just one or two, at least not anyone that I know of. And do you know what happens when you eat a lot of cherries? Not sure? How about prunes? Still not sure? Hmmm. How do I say this ‘appropriately’? I’ll put it this way, it works a lot like Drano. Do you know what Drano is used for? It helps to clear your (household) pipes or plumbing when they’re blocked or plugged. Cherries do virtually the same thing when it comes to ‘human’ plumbing. And they work nearly as fast. All ‘bound up’ from that turkey dinner with cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, fruit salad, buttered buns and pumpkin pie? Try eating a couple of handfuls of cherries and wait an hour or two.

Yep! Works every time! How do I know this? When I worked at my last job, I didn’t have to look far. Lunch was served at twelve sharp and usually around two o’clock (during cherry season), I’d notice a few people hightailing it to the restrooms. If all went well, I wouldn’t have to get involved. But when you’re talking about seniors, folks that generally don’t move as fast on their feet as they used to, there’s bound to be a ‘situation’. And during cherry season, it was something you could depend on not once, not twice, but several times. I dreaded cherry season! I cannot tell you how many times I was approached at the front desk and told, “Someone’s had an accident in the restroom.” Oh, crap! Not again!! As much as you want to pretend no one said anything and continue typing on your keyboard, you have to act. I usually tried to wait a couple of minutes to see if I could track down my director and have him deal with it but if he happened to be out, it fell on me.

My old boss was a trooper! Whenever there was a ‘situation’ he never made a fuss. Once I gave him ‘the damage report’, he’d go directly to the utility room, fill the mop bucket with bleach or disinfectant and hot water, put on some rubber gloves, grab the mop and head straight for the restrooms. Of course, I’d have to run ahead of him to ensure the ‘the coast was clear’. He didn’t like barging into the restrooms if they were currently in use. I thought I’d seen it all until I ‘saw it all’. Sometimes those restrooms looked like a crime scene except instead of blood, there was poop. Everywhere! Forget about just a little bit inside the toilet. I can do you one better. How about inside the toilet, all over the seat, down the front and on the floor? Hang on! I can do you one better. How about inside the toilet, all over the seat, down the front, on the floor and all over the back wall (like a blast from a fire hose). How is that even possible? I think I have a pretty good idea about human anatomy and how it works and I can honestly say, aside from a contortionist, I don’t know how an average human being could pull off a stunt like that. That takes some serious talent!

Some of the ‘situations’ were hardly noticeable. Do you remember the old fairy tale about the siblings, Hansel and Gretel? As they were led out into the woods, they left a trail of breadcrumbs? One day last year in late spring, as I was headed toward the restrooms, I noticed a trail of what I thought were raisins. It brought ‘Hansel and Gretel’ to mind. I almost started to pick them up off the floor with my bare hands but instinct told me otherwise. Upon closer inspection, I realized they weren’t raisins at all. I was so relieved I trusted my instinct that time! Another time, one of our ‘regulars’ that uses a wheelchair had to make a ‘run for it’. As it often did with most of our patrons, the ‘efficient work’ of the cherries took her by surprise. She was moving so fast in that wheelchair, her tires were nearly smoking. But she didn’t make it. We were made aware of this when we heard a female voice calling out, “Help, help!” off in the distance. When someone went to check on her, she was standing just inside the doorway to the ladies restroom, clad in a shirt and nothing more.

Where’d the rest of it wind up? Everything from the waist down had been removed and tossed in the garbage can. Fortunately, one of the staff members was able to run to a nearby store and replace her soiled clothing. That poor lady had to wait in the bathroom for quite a while, but at least she eventually was able to get herself sorted out and dressed so she could get on the bus and return home. Think that was bad? I can do you one better. This ‘situation’ happened at least two years ago but it’s still so vivid in my mind, that it could have happened yesterday. It was another beautiful day in late spring and I was contentedly working away at my desk when I was approached by an elderly woman who told me that there was a lady in the bathroom with a ‘problem’. “Oh crap!” I thought to myself as I put the ‘Be Right Back’ sign on the counter and headed towards the restrooms. You know the crime scene I mentioned earlier? That’s what I encountered that day.

When I pushed the door open, the first thing that struck me was the smell. There was no doubt my olfactory receptors were in fine working order. It nearly knocked me off my feet! I immediately closed the door and tried to catch my breath. I then tried a second time to enter the restroom and after one quick glance, my gag reflex kicked in and I had to retreat to the hallway again. By then, my director was already prepared with his mop and bucket. “How bad is it?” he said. I think I responded with, “Holy Shit!” but I honestly don’t remember. I just couldn’t get the images out of my head. A trail of poop led from the bathroom door all the way to the furthest stall. And would you like me to describe the condition of the toilet in the furthest stall? No. No, you don’t. I will spare you the details because I don’t want you to lose your appetite for an entire week. But that’s not even the thing that troubled me the most. The gal that left the ‘deposits’ didn’t even need a change of clothes. Huh? I could understand if she was wearing a skirt or a dress, but she was wearing pants. How was she able to even carry out a feat like that? I attempted to figure it out but it just made my brain hurt.

Do you like cherries? I do. They’re delicious! And there are so many varieties, Bing, Rainier, Sweetheart and Queen Anne, to name a few. But I caution you. Before you pop a couple of handfuls into your mouth and enjoy their sweet, juicy goodness, you’d better make sure there’s a restroom handy. If you don’t, you might end up like one of the few, fine folks I mentioned today. But if you want to tempt fate, I’m not going to stop you. Eat away! Have a couple of handfuls. Better yet, eat a whole bowl! Just don’t come crying to me when the inevitable happens. I tried to warn you. I really tried. And for that reason, when ‘it’ happens, which it inevitably will because you refused to heed my warning, NO, you cannot ‘borrow’ the extra pair of pants that I store under the front passenger seat. You brought this on yourself, my friend.

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