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Dream buffers - Sing With Me If It's Just For Today... — LiveJournal
If I should fall behind, Guyster, wait for me.
Dream buffers
Around six in the evening, every evening, the cleaning crew comes in to begin their workday. They swarm the hundreds of thousands of the building’s square feet with mops, Pledge, and floor buffers. The expanse of floor tile in the lobby alone requires a staff of three to make it a giant white mirror that is eventually scuffed by the day’s end. They’re mostly Spanish speaking and all are quick with a smile, some with glints of gold.

The crew leader is a handsome Mexican man with some English skills and soft, brown eyes. I see him directing his staff toward their duties but when I walk by, or any other executive for that matter, he stops with deference and smiles a hello. It isn’t quite a bow but it’s still more than I am comfortable with. I imagine him a good father and husband, and our positions within the company are arbitrary, even accidental. I smile back with an imaginary wink, hoping he’ll understand we’re all on this same train together and no one has a better seat than the other.

A stout woman takes care of our floor’s rest rooms and she doesn’t think twice about barging in and going about her business. The first time this happened, I was standing at the urinal and went into immediate pee-shyness at the site of her, mid-stream. With a quick shake, I was out of there in a blink, shyly nodding at her on my way. Since then, I’ve come to get used to the toilet intrusion although it’s only happened a few times since my inauguration to her.

It is not until I get to the parking garage elevator bank that I have an intriguing encounter every night. A very tall, thin young man is one of the floor buffers, working his oversized machine with repetitive precision. His hair is shoulder length but looks more born from the lack of funds than a fashion element. His eyes are haunting and sad.

The first time I saw him, I was waiting for the elevator to arrive and I looked over and smiled. He looked surprised and embarrassed. He returned the smile and quickly his eyes met his feet. We now see each other every evening as I stumble out around 7:30, thinking of Bob and what the hell I’m going to do for dinner, and I see him wrestling his mechanical tiger, and I see a longing in his eyes for recognition. There is absolutely nothing sexual in our non-verbal exchanges but I see him light up when he sees me rounding the corner, and I wonder what his dreams are or what his goals might be.

Given the fleeting nature of our collisions, I doubt I’ll ever find out what he wants to be when he grows all the way up, or what he hoped for when he came to America, or if he wants to settle down with a family here in Washington DC. I just hope that someday, somehow, he’s freed from the floor buffer and able to chase his dreams and live them. His eyes tell me he deserves it.
4 comments or Leave a comment
among_the_stars From: among_the_stars Date: December 3rd, 2003 04:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Terry, you should write books. You should.

I love the way you told this...it was beautiful.
twillhead From: twillhead Date: December 3rd, 2003 06:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's official . . . I love you! What a wonderful entry, beautifully observed.
ubermunkey From: ubermunkey Date: December 4th, 2003 05:56 am (UTC) (Link)
wow well written intriguing stuff, a glimpse into the secret life of the buffer man. I originally wrote the tall thin man but that sounded like that creepy character from Charlies Angels. Anyway, nice. Sometimes I wonder what dreams folk are hiding day in and day out....

be well
quuf From: quuf Date: December 5th, 2003 07:58 am (UTC) (Link)
This is a little masterpiece. Thank you.

When I worked as a janitor in my early twenties, my favorite 'suits' were the ones who simply smiled and nodded, as though we were sharing some private joke or ancient secret. I much preferred this approach to that of the glad-handers, whose hearts were probably in the right place but came across as cloying and condescending: 'Hey, big guy, how's it goin'?!' Well, I'm fine, thanks. No need to yell.

Beyond any wish you might have to know more about that young man, or speak with him, I'm sure the quality of your attention means a lot to him already. Some human connections (but not necessarily this one) are cheapened by the exchange of mere words.

Thanks again.
4 comments or Leave a comment