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Friday, November 9, 2007

Assignment: Clean Up Someone Else’s Shit

posted by on November 9 at 11:45 AM

David, a junior at a university in Seattle, wrote to me because he was disgusted by his roommate’s messy bedroom and he wanted someone to come and clean it up. David told me it was important Andrea’s room was cleaned soon, because every resident of the house had to climb over her piles of underwear, tank tops, beer bottles, unopened care packages, and heaping Glad bags filled with hangers to get to their rooms upstairs. The pack-rat roommate did not know I was coming to clean, and David intended to surprise her Oprah-style with a clean new room.

I went to David’s house last night around 10:30. He answered the door and led me to Andrea’s room. Then he handed me a Corona and said, “You’re going to need this.” I looked around. It was hard to imagine where to start. Which pile of clothing was more unsightly; the mountain of dirty thongs, period-stained leggings, and crumpled Anthropology bags filled with unwashed clothing to the left of the door, or the larger pile of purses, luggage, opened cardboard boxes and coats that lay in the center of the room near the bed? I stuck out my hand and felt around. That’s when my hand brushed over something damp. The lacy black underwear, perhaps, or maybe it was the grey unisex sweatpants. I couldn’t tell.

David’s three other female roommates came into the room and sat on the messy roommate’s bed. “This is fun,” one of them said, observing me. “I feel like I’m watching TV.” The three of them took bong hits and stared at my hands.


I unearthed a Hello Kitty polo, and one of the roommates insisted I try it on, along with a pair of hot red pants. “Just do it! You know you want to!” one of them yelled. I told her I did not want to.

After about twenty minutes my hands and arms started to itch. I couldn’t figure out if it was my usual dry skin acting up, or if Andrea’s had infected me with some sort of body lice. “Don’t worry, the only STD you could possibly get here would be scabies,” one of the roommates said, lying on the bed and staring at the ceiling. The other roommates giggled.

The itching passed after a couple more minutes of folding, and I began to make a dent in the soggy mountain to the left of the door. One of the roommates and I hoisted a dresser from the basement and began to stuff it with clothing. I didn’t organize the clothes very well: jeans went with tank tops and undies into the same drawer. I feared that obsessive organization would slow me down, and there were enough clothes to last for many more nights of folding. Andrea had used her employee’s discount to buy half of the season’s offerings at Anthropology. There were also Value Village and Goodwill t-shirts, Mossimo jackets, vintage belts, H+M sweaters, even a Japanese Kimono. Andrea could have eclectically clothed half a Greyhound bus station.


After about two more hours of folding, Andrea finally came home. “Why are there people in my room?!” she yelled. I explained to her that this was an intervention, much like the Meth head interventions on A&E… but about clothing. She had too much of it, she was addicted to it, and it was ruining her relationship with her roommates. Andrea looked mortified. “You mean you’ve just been sitting here folding my clothing this whole time?” Yes, we had, and after seeing Andrea’s stained undies, moldy bed sheets and lacy lingerie, I knew more about her than I ever wanted to know.

Suddenly Andrea’s face turned a brighter shade of red. “Oh my god, I need to grab something” she mumbled. She tore a page out of the Stranger newspaper, which was sitting on the chair, and grabbed at a dark corner of the clothing heap. “This guy left a used condom here, but I got it. You don’t have to throw it out. I will.”

Steven Blum
Public Intern


RSS icon Comments


Good Lord, Public Intern, you need a raise!

Posted by arduous | November 9, 2007 11:19 AM

You need hazard pay, Public Intern.

Posted by Gloria | November 9, 2007 11:22 AM

Wow, most awful assignment yet, and that's just from the period-stained leggings.

Posted by Gitai | November 9, 2007 11:23 AM

It's official. This is my new worst nightmare.

Posted by The General | November 9, 2007 11:24 AM


1) Couldn't they have given you rubber gloves or something? I mean Jesus, damp undies and used condoms = really fucking gross.

2) Did the roommates let you have any bong hits? That would've been the polite thing to do.

Posted by Hernandez | November 9, 2007 11:25 AM

This weekends assignment will be so much easier, and way more fun...

Posted by Rockstar | November 9, 2007 11:26 AM

I agree w/ Gloira @2. Hazard pay. I can't believe you went into that mess without gloves. And a flame-thrower.

Posted by steve | November 9, 2007 11:27 AM

That last line was horrifying. Thank you, Public Intern.

Posted by Marcel Duchump | November 9, 2007 11:28 AM

Wait. What happened? Any sense that she wanted to change her ways? Did she throw you out? Yell and scream?

BTW, even Dan doesn't make enough to do this job--appalling that the Stranger would let you go through with this.

PS, you're still majorly cute.

Posted by Mark | November 9, 2007 11:37 AM

I LOVE the public intern! Reminds me of that Dirty Jobs TV show.

Posted by Clint | November 9, 2007 11:38 AM

i'm a female with a disgusting bedroom. Luckily I have friends who get so fed up that they clean it on a bi-monthly basis.

Posted by dirty girl | November 9, 2007 11:43 AM

12 - very nice.

Posted by rob | November 9, 2007 11:45 AM

Why were the roomates staring at your hands, Public Intern?'

Are they big?



Posted by Measure | November 9, 2007 11:45 AM

I guess this is like reality TV and has some entertainment value but like reality TV is just a pointless exercise in "shock value".
In reality people take responsibility for their own filth. In reality the girl should have been thrown out. All I see is some spoilt brats getting entertained by you.
I am sure you are worthy of better assignments that do not smack of a "fraternity prank" or some twisted "right of passage".

Posted by -B- | November 9, 2007 11:52 AM

I continue to love the Public Intern. But this job was really disgusting. Picking up a lady's filthy unmentionables is just icky.

Posted by Michigan Matt | November 9, 2007 11:55 AM

I'm totally grossed out by the idea that you were folding and putting away filthy clothes. Something tells me this girl doesn't smell very fresh. Hopefully the public humiliation will be a wake up call to her shameless lack of personal hygiene!

Posted by thankshappy | November 9, 2007 11:58 AM

What, no pics of the roomates, the panties, or the period stains?

I know I'm nitpicking, but c'mon!

Posted by Mike in MO | November 9, 2007 12:04 PM

There has to be a point where it's okay for Public Intern to be able to say "oh HELL no" when asked to do something like this.

If those bitches wanted that room so cleaned they should have done it themselves.

Posted by monkey | November 9, 2007 12:07 PM

How I would have done it: all of her belongings left outside of her room go into plastic trash bags. The bags are thrown into the room. The door to the room is nailed shut.

Posted by Fnarf | November 9, 2007 12:07 PM

Hazard pay, absolutely. In fact, I'd say a Haz-Mat suit would not have been out of line.

This one goes waaaaay above-and-beyond the call of duty, Steven.

Posted by COMTE | November 9, 2007 12:33 PM

Are you becoming the Stranger's new Worst Enemy, Public Intern?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | November 9, 2007 12:37 PM

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