Friday, August 7, 2009

Flashbacks from the Great War

For some crazy reason that I won't bore you with, it became (in my mind) imperative to clean the little storage room next to the kitchen. It was around midnight, and I wanted to be done by mid-morning.

"No big deal," I thought, "I drank a lot of coffee, so I wouldn't sleep anyway. I'll just take care of it right now."

So I put Jessica to bed, piled all the cleaning supplies in our apartment in the bike trailer, and biked out to our new home. You see - it wasn't just a normal cleaning job.

The previous owners kept their cats in that room next to the kitchen. Apparently they didn't really use their litter box when they went number one all the time, so it smelled pretty bad. It had gotten worse since we got the keys, instead of getting better as it aired out, so it was best to get it cleaned out as soon as possible.

"No big deal," I thought, "the previous owners said they cleaned it up, so I'll just spray it down or whatever, and that'll be that."

Arrival. I open the front door and carry the supplies inside.
"Damn, I forgot the keys to the side door. It'll get kinda stuffy in the side room, but I should continue the mission." So I turn on the lights and enter the side room to form a plan. I study the contents...god, that stench...just some cardboard and newspapers...holy smokes, this is bad...and a couple of bins for recycling I gotta get out of here...

I estimate 5 minutes to move the stuff, 15 minutes of hard cleaning, 5 minutes of cleaning up, and 5 minutes of buffer space. I should be in and out in 30 minutes. Nice.

Ten minutes later I had already started cleaning, but I realized it was fruitless. The floor was covered with a thin linoleum-like sheet. The top was filthy, but I suspected something...worse.

I lifted the corner of the...oh my what is this? I pulled the sheet back further. It was wet. It was swimming in a pool of urine. It was horrible.

I managed to cover the floor through the house with tarp so I could pull the dripping tepid terrible mess out to the back yard without stinking down the rest of the house. It was heavy, like a corpse.

"No big deal, that must be the worst of it."


Returned to the side room, heavy-duty bleach spray in hand. Hmm? I ignore the nagging feeling, and get to work. The walls were painted white - not much of a challenge there. However, there is one ugly porous concrete floor, and 360 degrees of corner. I decide to start at the right corner of the side door and work clockwise. I'd be at the left corner of the door in gggheh? ten minutes.

"No big deal, just gonna hose it down with some bleach, clean it out, and I'll be out in 30 minutes."

So I start hosing. Spraying and spraying. Dousing the awful floor, destroying that terrible smell with pure, clean, aggghh bleach. Spritzing and pouring. My eyes felt dry and it became difficult to breathe.
I should have better ventilation for this. Bleach is kinda toxic. Listen! But I keep on going as hard as my hands can squeeze the bottle. Spraying and spraying. My eyes stung and watered, my lungs burned, and the back of my head was screaming for attention. Wake up, you fool! But I would not listen - could not stop - I had to finish the job. Spraying and spraying. Spritzing and pouring. All the way to the left edge of the side door. I can't even see anything anymore. I would scream to quell the stinging, but there's no air to carry the sound and instead I whimper pitifully. But I'm done.

01.30 I stumble out into the kitchen and lean out of the open window - try to breathe deeply. The tears instantly soothe my eyes, and my lungs ache for relief.

"What's going on? This is way beyond bleach," I think to myself, and finally listen to that little voice of reason that had been plaguing me the whole night...thank you! Finally, eh? About time. Right, so what's bleach? Sodium hypochlorite? Annnnnnd, what's that smelly stuff in your pee? I can see where I'm going with this... ammonia? Good! Put the two and two together! Hmmm, that's a little tricky... we'd get... some salts and water and... diatomic chlorine? Yup. Go take care of it.

"Shite. Chlorine gas. Fuuuck meeeee."

I go back to the room and find a spot that'll work for a test. A spot on the doorframe is a bit rotted, so I spray. I am simultaneously excited and horrified to see green wisps floating up from the doorframe when I spray it with the leftover bleach. Apparently I just experienced something minorly similar to some thousands of soldiers in the first world war.

03.00 I finally finish up and go home.

Epilogue A few days later I regained my full lung capacity. I can be a real dummy when I don't pay attention!

No kidding!

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