I worked in a mall at one time. I don't usually go around telling this to people though, because the mall was Gerrard Square. Those that know about Gerrard Square, also know that it's a pit, as far as malls go, which is what earned it its nickname of Ghetto Square. But I was young, I did not know any better, and at the time, it was a great excuse to get to know the real working world.
I worked as Internal Maintenance, but it basically turned out more to be more like Internal Security. I received training on how I was to react in case of fire, how to deal with robberies, where equipment was and how to use it. Best of all, if there was a bomb threat, I was to help looking for the bomb. I was also given these cheesy grey pants and a shirt with red and blue thin stripes and a gigantic GERRARD SQUARE logo on it.
And most of all Gerrard Square was a sad, boring, tacky mall. It tried really hard to be hip and to be cool. They even had Gretzky there once signing pictures there, and it was the only time I saw people that resembled human beings walk those floors, charmed by the wordless elevator music.
At the time, none of this bothered me.
You see, being my first job, and being young and inexperienced about what scum lurks in the working world, I worked hard at doing my best. I felt a sense of pride, honour and most of all, I cared about what I did.
Now a day, I look back with a smirk on my face. I was naive, but I think that if it had not been for me working in the pits of hell, I would never had learned how to work, do nothing, and still get paid. I bought my first computer with that money. A brand spanking new 486DX, costing me a small fortune, having them just arrived on the market.
Being the new guy and being just sixteen, I ended up getting the shifts that no one else ever wanted: Saturdays and Sundays. That meant that I was there half a day on Saturday, to closing, and all day on Sunday. Riding my bike in the middle of winter at 6 in the morning and coming back at 11 PM was not exactly fun.
Sundays began to slowly be the most fun days of all. It was just me and a security guard, a nice bloke from up north that didn't mind sharing his endless tales of pick-up trucks, picking up women, or all of the above. I didn't mind listening to him though. My English at the time was still not perfect, and this guy was able to make even the most boring story something memorable. Or at least, at the time. I can't remember exactly what those stories were, but if I just made one up now, and I used the words "pick up truck", "very fast" and "this chick I picked up", I wouldn't be all that far off. I do remember though him explaining to me what alt.ductape.hamster was all about.
We were usually bored and walked around the mall together. In part so we could talk, and in part to have more of a chance to hold down a guy. I remember at one time we chased after this 6 feet 5 giant that ran out of a clothing store with a whole bunch of shirts. We finally caught him and while I was desperately trying to hold his legs, the security guard handcuffed him. I remember neither of us could hold him down. He kept on trying to bite us, and we later discovered why when the cops arrived to take him away. He had Aids and was trying to make us pay by giving it to us. That was the last time we bothered to actually catch someone.
I ran into the security guard a while back while doing my Christmas shopping, at a very high class mall. We were truly touched to see each other, to the point we hugged. I introduced him to my girlfriend, and me to his, who was the security guard next to him. A tall, mean looking blonde, with a ferocious look in her eyes. She seemed like the kind of woman that could've ripped your heart out and showed it to you without you even realizing it.
Being Internal Maintenance meant that I was in charge of taking care of vomit spilled by some unhappy customer down by the food court, the odd piece of paper dropped on the floor, emptying the garbage bags if they were too full, and cleaning the washrooms.
I was to clean the washrooms every fifteen minutes. I learned one thing from this: women are more messy than men when it comes to using a washroom. While I would enter the male's washroom, and at most, I'd have to clean a tiny piece of toilet paper on the floor or the odd pool of water next to the sink, or replace ONE roll of toilet paper, it was never as bad as the women. What took five minutes in the men's, took fifteen in the women's. Women had five stalls and two rolls of toilet paper each. I'd usually find no toilet paper or more commonly, no toilet paper roll at all. There would be bloody pads stuck in just about every opening in the wall, stuffed down the toilet, on the floor, on the sink. And many were the times when someone had clearly gone to empty their intestines and clearly missed, but it had not fallen on the floor, rather it was sprayed all over the wall behind the toilet. Bras, underwear, bags full of old clothing, shoes were among the many other things found which never made it to the lost and found box. They were clearly abandoned there. So armed with the unlimited amount of plastic disposable gloves that management had provided us and plenty of an alcohol based bacteria killer that we put on our hands, I'd get to work. After removing all material articles, pads and the incredible amount of toilet paper scattered around, I'd bring in the hose. We were not supposed to use the hose in the bathrooms, but to instead use this tiny little scrub that was so small it wouldn't have scrubbed a roach's ass, much less any of the shit scattered all over the place.
The hose had this little container that I filled with Javex, kind of like those that are used to spray insecticide on plants. I'd walk in, release the pressure and blast the washroom from top to bottom. Once I was done, not only did the washroom smell clean, it was also clean.
When the mall finally closed at 9 PM, I was to sweep the first and second floor, and wash any stain I saw. Empty all the garbage bags that were half full, and clean the washrooms for the day after. I was however the only one that seemed to actually clean, unlike many of the other people that worked.
The fact that nobody else took this much time in cleaning the washrooms or the floor and that management wouldn't do anything about it, should've been my first clue that I shouldn't have cared either and saved myself from too much work. But I had it all figured out flat. I could clean the washrooms and wipe the floors in a record time of 45 minutes, with all the shortcuts I had discovered and yet have a final product that could pass an inspection. And because both I and security had to wait until 11 PM for the cleaning crew to arrive, we had lots of time to play cards or do our patrols.
People seem to have this tendency that having sex in a public place is fun. Not only because it's different, but because it also has the thrill of the risk of getting caught.
When it comes to sex, I am pretty non-judgemental. I live by the motto, live and let live, basically, leave me out of your life and I won't bother looking at what you are doing. You have sex? Great, but spare me the intimate details. I don't go around telling you how I did it with my girlfriend.
We caught people having sex every Sunday night in or around Gerrard Square.. It was rare to catch someone having sex inside Gerrard Square, but at one time, during our usual patrol, armed with one foot long Maglights, we found two oriental men still in the toilet, after closing hours. One man was performing oral sex on the other. It wasn't much of the homosexuality that disturbed me, but the fact that they a) were having sex in a public washroom, and b) they were having sex in a public washroom in Gerrard Square. Just by rubbing your hand on the sink- counter you were for sure going to contract some new disease that had just formed from binding with all the bacteria crawling around there.
Another place people seemed to particularly enjoy fornication of the heavy duty kind was the multi-level parking lot. We'd check the stairs were we'd kick out a few drug addicts that were so stoned they hadn't been able to find their way out, and walk all the way up to the last level. Near the end there was usually a parked car, with the windows all steamed up. The car wasn't on, but it was clearly moving.
For respect, and also to save ourselves from the sight, we'd turn on and off the flash lights in their directions. This seemed however to never work, and the car rocked just as much as before. We'd usually have to tap on the window a few times before anyone inside would even bother noticing us. Sometimes we caught the same couple twice. You'd think they would learn...
Eventually I had to quit due to health reasons and moved on to better, bigger things (No Frills). When I drive by and I see Gerrard Square, I can't help it but shake my head thinking I was working there at one time and the shit I went through. But it was fun, and I guess that even in the worse of situations, if you have fun, it doesn't matter how much shit you have to scrape off the wall of a toilet.