The Stairwell Hygienist


So it started this way: one day several years ago while walking up the four flights of stairs to our office in the Gregory Building (sadly, the only exercise I get some days), I noticed a scattering of white bits on the stairs next to one landing. Hmm, I thought. That looks familiar. What ARE those?

I looked more closely. I’ve seen those before. Where? Not in stairwells. Now up close. Omigod. They can’t be. Oh yes they do be. Nail clippings. For real. 10 of them. I counted. They were either fingernails of a very large man or toenails of a man on the smaller side. Yes, they were definitely male. I could tell, and not just because no woman I’ve ever met in my entire lifespan would do her nail hygiene in a stairwell and leave the detritus behind.

So of course the first thing I did when I got in the office was share my observation with my sister coworkers. They took a field trip to confirm the sighting, and yes, I was right on all counts, and the collective opinion was that they were toenails. We were collectively offended. So I made a sign: toenail-sign

Well, of course, that didn’t really last because no self-respecting fancy office building is going to tolerate having a “No toenails” sign in its stairwell, is it? What? You don’t think it should tolerate dead toenails in its stairwell for weeks on end either? Hmmm… interesting point.

Eventually, the stairwells get cleaned, so eventually the toenails get swept off to the landfill. But more always come back. We watch for them and keep one another posted.

Things were humming right along, then one day a new sighting: dental floss! The stairwell hygienist is uppin his game! From foot to mouth! Wow! We are impressed!

None of us has ever sighted the stairwell hygienist in the act. We do try. We take that stairwell every chance we get, and not always to get exercise. We really do wonder who this guy is. Not that we really want to meet a person who chooses such a location to perform increasing numbers of personal hygiene actions, especially in an unattended stairwell. But we’d like to know his identity. It’s not like we’re going to collect a specimen and send it off for DNA testing, or anything, but we are curious…

So the other day, a new much more serious looking dental cleansing apparatus appeared! He’s escalating! I’ve heard about this. You know, they start with animal torture, then move on to humans. And there’s never any going back. We’re becoming afraid, and steeling ourselves each time we prepare to enter the stairwell. Soon I fear we’ll need to walk it in pairs.

So we’re taking nominations on what will appear next. What do you think? Beard trimmings? Nose hairs? Profuse phlegm? Something more sinister??? Please advise, we need time to prepare…

Next: outing the guy on the third floor who comes up to the fourth floor every morning to totally foul the air in the men’s bathroom. He probably thinks we don’t notice. But we are watching…


One response

  1. Fun entry, though I have seen women with big old toenails and terrible hygiene habits. Sure, the odds are it’s a man, but it’s by no means a sure thing. I mean, how many men do you know who floss? 😉

    On the bathroom stinker, WTF is he eating anyway, and has he never heard of a courtesy flush?