In my process of developing and running my own business, I have had to face a lot of obstacles. However, I have never, until now, experienced a literal shit storm.
“The toilet is clogged”, I heard from a passing student. “Aw, man”, I lamented. This is one of the more unflattering aspects of business ownership. Who can afford to call a plumber every time a toilet is clogged? “Well, I suppose I should hit it with the plunger.” I have had to use a plunger many times in my life, but never before did I experience such gross, such horrifying results.
I was plunging the toilet, when I heard a gurgling noise coming from the shower drain, which was located on the flat tile floor, a little ways from the toilet. “What is that?”, I thought. I turned and looked to see a fast moving sludge of liquefied human waste coming up from the drain and rapidly spreading across the bathroom floor.
“Oh no”, I thought. “This is…not…good.” Then I thought, “I must flee this place.”
I walked downstairs, very upset about what had just transpired. Someone probably put too much paper down the toilet and it clogged…to disastrous results.
“Please. Come and see what I have seen”, I told my work colleagues. This was too unbelievable to not share. Each of us, separately, visited the waste zone, to stare and gasp in horror.
“Someone needs to clean this up”, I thought to myself. “Hmm”, I thought, “Who could do this heinous work? If I ask my cleaner to clean this…she will…quit.” “If I ask any of my colleagues, despair would abound…and they would quit. I could hire a waste management service to come and scour, but I am already paying for a cleaning service and prices in Norway are extreme.”
Ultimately, my efforts in unclogging the toilet were in vein and the plumbers and to come. They had to send high propulsion air down the pipes from a large truck to clean it out…but they were not interested in cleaning up the travesty that had now hardened and coated the entirety of the bathroom floor.
Facing this mess before me, I began to question my love for my business.
I questioned my pledge to serve my students. How far is one expected to take service?
Questions arose if I should not just head straight for the airport and evacuate, immediately.
But at the end of the day, I knew the answer. I knew what needed to be done. It was I, and I alone, owner of the business, who held the responsibility for cleaning up this horrible mess. It was I who needed to go in, to don the mask and the long rubber gloves, to spray that shit down…and restore chaos to order.
After two hours, it was DONE.
Spick and Span.
There is little so humbling in life as having to clean up other peoples’ excrement.
If ever there was a testament to one loving one’s job, to serving those who follow your leadership and accepting all it offers, I hope this post may be it.
Christ, in demonstrating service to his followers, washed some feet. How would he have felt about this?
Jim Hart is the founder of The International Theatre Academy Norway