As the year ends it’s natural to reflect on the past 365 days. When the year was a shit-storm, we usually try to trace back to where it all went wrong so improvements can be made, beginning January 1st. And when the past year was successful, we make it a goal to continue building upon that success. But what if the year was neither a shit-storm or worthy of a gold star? What if the year was just a year? How do you measure if you did well? The answer is simple.
Did a stranger’s bloody placenta fall on your foot in 2015? If the answer is no, then your 2015 was far better than my 2009 – the year in which I compare all other years.
Some may find it a strange way to measure success. While most judge themselves by their annual salary and achievements, I imagine a burgundy vein-filled blob used to sustain human life.
I’ll never forget that fateful moment. I was working what is arguably one of the most disgusting jobs, hospital housekeeping. It wasn’t my first choice. I had just moved to a new town and needed a job fast. I haphazardly whipped up a resume and applied to the county hospital as a unit secretary. Human Resources suggested that if I first worked in housekeeping for six months, they could then transfer me to the secretary job.
“We strongly believe that starting at the bottom makes you a stronger employee, and more likely to succeed in the future,” the overenthusiastic HR woman said. “The possibilities are endless when you work your way up the ladder!”
Being a slob for as long as I can remember, I was surprised to find that I became quite skilled at bodily fluid clean-up. After three months of tackling projectile everything during the swine flu pandemic of 2009, my supervisor started training me to clean the operating room.
Being in the operating room was like being in an entirely different world and far more intimate than scrubbing toilets. In the operating room I had the privilege of mopping up blood, chunks of flesh, and tiny bone fragments. There were giant red trash bags where the surgeon would discard medical waste. Sometimes after long surgeries, the bags would be overflowing with puss-filled gauze and bloody rags. No matter what I walked into, it was my job to suit up and disinfect every single item in the room, except for when blood spurted on the ceiling. We had a ceiling guy for that.
Labor & delivery had their own operating room just for cesarean sections. Almost all of the c-sections took the same amount of time so clean up became pretty routine. Get in, scrub everything down, mop, and replace the trash bags before they rolled in another mom-to-be.
I became an expert at spotting droplets of blood. I was a housekeeping soldier and my mop was my faithful steed. Nothing could ruin my flow. That is, until the day that I compare all other days of my life.
After clocking in one morning I went straight to labor & delivery and was bombarded with requests from frazzled nurses.
“IT WAS A FULL MOON LAST NIGHT AND EVERYONE WAS HAVING A BABY AND HOUSEKEEPING WAS SHORT STAFFED,” They cried. “We’re so sorry but EVERY room needs cleaned, including both operating rooms.”
“No problem,” I assured them. “I got this.”
I rounded up all essential cleaning items on my sexy housekeeping cart and rolled over to the first operating room.
Now, for those of you who don’t know the smell of blood, it’s like a light metallic singe to the nostril. After you’ve cleaned hundreds of bloody operating rooms, the scent is undeniable.
As soon as I opened the door to the operating room the pungent fragrance of blood and amniotic fluid bombed my sinuses. Usually the operating room post-cesarean was fairly decent, this looked like someone delivered a pack of babies who soon thereafter decided to spontaneously combust.
I never asked why that particular operating room was left in such disarray and I probably didn’t want to know. All I knew was that it was my job to clean it up and that’s what I was going to do.
I scrubbed up and entered the room, heading straight for the big red trash bags. The red bags weren’t just overflowing, they were spilling their contents all over the floor as well. I grasped the top of the bag and could barely lift it. In my mere three months of housekeeping experience, this was the first time I was having trouble with the weight of a bag.
A few grunts later I was able to wiggle the bag off of its stand. Just then, I heard a rip and a few items fall out of the bottom. That’s when I looked down and saw A MOTHER FUCKING PLACENTA NESTLING ON MY FOOT.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhh NOOO!!! Shittermothernooopleasenoooo!!!”
It was at this point that I put the trash bag down and ran around the room in circles trying to comprehend what had just happened to me. What I didn’t know was that while I was running around, I was also tracking bloody footprints throughout the room and had kicked the placenta under a cabinet.
In an attempt to gain composure I stopped and observed the situation. The disturbing scene included a busted bag of medical waste, a circle of bloody footprints, and skid marks from when I showed that placenta I could bend it like Beckham.
I considered calling for help but then changed my mind, imagining what my supervisor would have said about the circus of a mess. I doubled up on gloves, face masks, caps, etc. and eventually made that room sparkle. The hardest part was prying the demon placenta out from under the cabinet. If you ever find yourself in the exact same situation, I find that a long handled dustpan does the job.
Since that room took so long to clean, it put me behind on cleaning the other rooms, which caused me to have to stay after work that day FOUR HOURS LATE. All because of some shitty afterbirth.
So back to my main point… for some reason at the end of every year, my mind wanders to that gory day back in 2009. And as long as I don’t have to physically relive that day, I’d say all years in comparison are pretty fucking sweet. For that, I am thankful and for that, you should be too.
Happy new year. If you’re feeling anxious, just know that whatever 2016 brings, at least it won’t bring you placenta soccer balls.