It was a hot, sweltering September day in Atlanta, unusually warm during this time of the year. Marigold Applegate’s light brown eyes stared out the window of an old Marta bus as it rattled down Candler Road. She was casually dressed wearing a loose-fitting summery blouse over black stretchy slacks. Marigold sighed deeply as she fingered combed her short, curly, auburn red hair. Always good-natured, she wasn’t in the best of moods. It was Monday, the beginning of the workweek, and Marigold was tired. She didn’t get much sleep from the night before, and she wondered if she had enough energy to make it through the next ten hours.
Employed as a social worker in a psychiatric hospital, most days, Marigold was up for the challenge. She worked the evening shift working with the mentally ill, however, lately, the job’s daily grind and constant program changes grated on her nerves. Exhausted from the daily mayhem, Marigold longed for a cruise. She dreamt of relaxing on a deck in her bathing suit and reading a good book. As she mentally prepared for the evening shift, a malodorous mixture of musky mops and human waste slapped her in the face.
Homeless men in need of a shower sat or laid sprawled out asleep on seats near the back of the bus. Their faces were dirty and motley as their heads bobbed up and down like puppets on a string. Marigold frowned, wrinkling her nose as the musky smell floated through the bus. Between the men’s snores, and the putrid body odor, Marigold was overwhelmed. She rubbed her nose and her brown framed prescription glasses slid down on her face. She pushed them back in place on the bridge of her nose using one index finger.
Marigold tightly pursed her pink lip-sticked colored lips and held her breath. Trying not to inhale, she fought the urge not to pass out. Marigold lost the fight momentarily and took a deep breath. Then she tightly pursed her lips and held her breath again. Soon the bus pulled in front of the hospital, and stopped. Eager to get off, Marigold slid out of her seat. She walked briskly to the front of the bus, and when the doors open, Marigold got off. With her black handbag swinging on her left shoulder and her lunch bag clenched tight in her right hand, Marigold walked through the hospital’s sliding glass doors inhaling deeply, welcoming the fresh air, relieved to be free from the stinky odor. Marigold checked her watch. The time was eleven fifty-five. Although her shift began at twelve-thirty, she often arrived early. She used the time to settled in, chatting with co-workers and reading emails.
Nurses dressed in purple scrubs, doctors in white lab coats, and patients mingling in the hallway waved at her as she scurried by. Marigold waved back as she hurried down the hall. She was focused and she wondered what nonsense awaited her from the weekend. Marigold smiled inwardly as questions weighed on her mind. Did management make up another screwy policy or did a doctor make a crazy decision? “I’ll guess I’ll find out,” she mumbled to herself, rolling her eyes heavenward.
By the time Marigold reached the office, she was mentally ready for the day. With her hand poised on the doorknob, she opened it and eased in. Angela Kennedy and Hallie Smith were sitting at their desk, eating lunch. They waved at Marigold as she hurried past them to the break room. “Enter at your own risk!” Marigold heard Angela yelled from behind.
Marigold chuckled to herself as she stood in front of the break room door. She knew what Angela meant. The break room was always filthy. Staff was either too busy or too lazy to clean up after themselves. A neat freak herself, their lack of cleanliness irritated her. As Marigold twisted the doorknob, and walked in, she took a sharp breath. The place was in disarray as she expected. Dirty dishes were stacked high in the two-bowled sink, and scattered food crumbs were on the counter. Marigold’s shoes stuck to the floor momentarily as she made her way to the refrigerator. Dried, sticky grape juice was splattered all over the floor. “Damn, why don’t these people clean up after themselves,” Marigold muttered out loud as she scrunched up her face.
Marigold shook her head in disgust as she opened the refrigerator door. Her face tightened when she saw what laid before her. Lunch bags of every color and size were jammed packed on every shelf. Marigold sighed harshly making room for her lunch bag. It took several minutes to fit hers in, and once this daunting task was done, Marigold slammed the refrigerator door shut. She whirled around, and her light brown eyes landed on a large paper napkin taped to the wall above the table. Marigold’s eyes lit up, and her mouth gaped open. With an arrow pointing down toward the table, the napkin read in big, bold letters, Please Don’t Put Bougers On The Wall!
Marigold fell out laughing. She grabbed a chair and sat at the table in awe. She laughed so loud, her belly ached drawing both Angela and Hallie running to the break room. Still laughing, Marigold pointed at the wall. When the women saw the sign, they fell out laughing. After Angela gathered herself together, her dark brown eyes stared at the distasteful sign. “Where are we? Are we in kindergarten or in an adult work setting? Unbelieveable!“
“I know,” Marigold smirked.
“Are there boogers on the wall? Did you check?”
“No, I didn’t check,” Marigold laughed lurching out of her seat. She took her glasses off and rubbed her watery eyes. Then she slid them back on as she hovered over the table. Marigold inspected the area below the pointed arrow, bursting out into mirthless laughter. “The wall is clean as a whistle! There are no boogers here!”
“Maybe, someone wiped the boogers off,” Angela suggested.
“Maybe.” Marigold giggled.
“But who would be crazy enough to put a sign like that on a wall at work?” Hallie gasped with her blue-green eyes glistening through her black-framed eyeglasses.
“Beats me,” Angela said, twirling a black curl around her pinkie finger.
Hallie shook her head vigorously with her dark ponytail swishing back and forth. “So disgusting and nasty!”
“Yep! You can say that again,” Angela laughed half-heartedly. Erring on the side of caution, Angela’s face turned serious. “We probably should take this down before someone in management sees it.”
“Before you do that, I need to take a picture. No one would ever believe this.” Marigold said as she pulled her iPhone out of her jacket pocket. She leaned forward and snapped a picture. “There, I’ve evidence now,” she laughed.
Angela shook her head, folding her arms while Hallie reached over the table and snatched the sign from the wall. She crumbled it up into a ball and threw it in a trashcan.
“Send me that picture when you get a chance,” Angela said. “I want to put it on Instagram.”
“Seriously?” Hallie asked, staring at Angela with big eyes.
“Why not? Let’s give the Instagram world a good laugh,” Angela replied with a gleam in her eye.
Marigold laughed hysterically. “You’re so crazy!”
“Not as crazy as the person who put that damn sign on the wall!”
All three women laughed, and Marigold found herself in a better mood. She started her day wishing she was somewhere else but the little napkin taped on the wall with the words Please Don’t Put Bougers On The Wall, drastically changed her tune. It reminded her she worked in an engaging, bizarre work setting, a daily comedy show that has never failed to keep her entertained and engaged. Thank you for reading.
Categories: Short Stories