Why the Janitor Needed His Ladder

It happened when I was in fourth grade, or maybe fifth.  My worst offenses at school up to that point were talking back to a teacher (never did that again!) and fighting with a classmate (we both lost clumps of hair). I was basically a rule-following teacher pleaser. But not this particular day.

My friend Jennifer made me do it! She was always having more fun than me, more smiles and more laughter.  I suppose I was feeling restless and bored at school that day – and mischievous.

I’d received permission to leave class to use the restroom.  Our intermediate grade hallway was long, with classrooms on both sides. The doors were painted bright, fun colors and you could see into the rooms through the large windows in the center of them if you were tall enough.  The bathroom door was enormous.  I had to push it open with both hands and dig my toes into the floor.  The girls room had Peppermint Patty from the Charles Schultz Snoopy cartoon painted on the door.

The ceiling soared up above you, way up, when you walked in.  It made me feel small and conspicuous somehow. I always thought it was odd for the bathroom to have such a tall ceiling.  The stalls had wooden plywood doors, and of course only some had working locks.  I heard someone come in.

When I left my stall, I saw my friend Jennifer! Of course we didn’t rush back to class.  She  had a huge smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye.  She pointed to the ceiling. “Have you ever made one of those?” she asked me, pointing to the toilet-paper wads stuck to the ceiling.

“No,” I said.  Suddenly I felt an irrepressible urge to try.

“I’ve made one before, ” Jennifer bragged.  “Let’s both make one now!”

I knew it was wrong. I’d heard our teacher explain just the other day that whoever was making toilet-paper wads in the bathroom should stop. I understood it meant the janitor would have to get his ladder out and scrape all that gunk off. My heart started to beat wildly.  I shouldn’t do this, but I really want to.  Even though I could clearly see two wads stuck to the ceiling, I still couldn’t quite fathom how they stayed there. My analytical mind wouldn’t rest until I’d experimented myself.

Jennifer knew exactly what to do. She knew exactly how much water and toilet tissue to use.  We stepped on the curved bar at the concrete sink and let the streams of water soak in.  “You just fling it up there as hard as you can,” she was talking excitedly nonstop.

Jennifer threw hers first.  It stuck fast with a satisfying whump!

I was beginning to sweat. We’d been gone from class too long, I knew. At any moment someone could walk in and then they’d tell on us!  I didn’t care anymore.

I tossed the wad gingerly into the air, then scooted out of the way as it came back to earth.  It was a lame toss. Jennifer encouraged me to throw it harder.  So I hurled that thing at the ceiling. Whump! Oh! So cool! The bathroom door creaked open.

Our classmate ratted us out, and we had to go talk to the school counselor.  I was euphoric, but also contrite. And thrilled! As if some great scientific toilet-paper wad mystery had been solved, and now I could go on with life.  They really do stick! Poor janitor, I’m truly sorry. If you only knew what fun I had. . .


*Yes, this is the same blogger.  I’m not serious all the time! 😉

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