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Saving the Day with the Devil on Christmas Eve
I was in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, at a friend’s house, on Christmas Eve, when I got a phone call from a number I did not have tagged. It turned out to be Ernie, a janitor I trained over a decade ago, who had gone to work for another company long since. Here it goes…
Mista Jimmy! I knew you’d ansa!
Been betta, been betta, Boss…
Now, now, Mista Jimmy, you oways will be da boss, datz why I saved yo number—neva know when some shit will occur…
Okay, so da assistant manager sends me to the deli—it’s rockkin’ in here, Mister Jimmy, doin’ bidness—‘cause that nasty drain line is clogged and leakin’ we cain’t have dat greasy goo floatin’ out among the customa’s shoes. Dare Ernie, Johnny on da spot with the shop vac—done sucked dat shit up, cleared the line even.
Now I gotz ta—y’all hold your horses, got Da Man on the line…no, not Misa Rick, Mista Jimmy…
We’ll he ansad didn’ he!
Well, I’m rolling dat shop vac full a grease back here past the bak-a-ry, walk-in en dese pushy bak-a-ry people tryi’n to ged on bye to get dey chocolate chip cookies and dare it goes! Oh, I didn’t spill dis shit—its on y’all!
Okay, okay, Mista Jimmy, dis Miss Liz commin’ on da line—come ova from Food Lion…
Miss Liz—is sounding sexy as all get out and Mister Jimmy is rum-deep and ripped…
Thanks for picking up, Mister Jimmy. We are sold out of chocolate chip cookies and we have a ten-foot grease slick in front of the walk-in and I can’t let these lady’s slip in that and it’s spreading. I’ve got Ernie cutting it with alcohol and trying to mop it up and it’s just spreading…
THE WHITE DEVIL to the Rescue:
“Look, Doll, send a clerk with a U-boat to get three twenty-pound bags of cat litter, the cheap stuff, the more clay the better. Use one bag to pour in a circle around the grease—this will work for all oil spills—to keep it from spreading. Then dump the other two bags in the middle and have Ernie start with a rake if you have one and then the push broom. It will suck that grease right up and you sweep up the mess.”
You’re welcome, Baby. Merry Christmas to you too—could you put Ernie back on, please.
I knew you knowed—knew Mist Jimmy would have the ansa…
I’ will, I’ll swipe a bag a cat litter off da next order roll in da door en hide it in ma janitorial closet. You can count on dat, Boss. You saved da day—we ‘bout to have a chocolate chip riot up in hea! Bless you, Mista Jimmy.

Such is the short-term institutional memory of the retail food business. As soon as someone who knows leaves the location, whatever operational lore he held leaves with him—something like the American History department at an Ivy League university, I suppose....
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Add Comment
AmericanDagdaFebruary 4, 2020 2:14 PM UTC

Huh. Never thought about cat litter. We always used corn meal.
responds:February 5, 2020 12:39 AM UTC

Same idea. cat liter works on pine sol too. We once had a pallet of oil in glass bottles go down and had to pour 4 inch dykes in the produce room...