Blue-chip companies take their name from the color of the highest-valued chips at poker tables on October 28, 1929.

(we’re reliable, all-American, safe)

Then comes October 29, 1929: the day the stock markets crash.

Then comes October 30, 2009: me, new to a minimum-wage custodial crew, learning that the most important thing, when you clean the headquarters of a multibillion-dollar corporation, is the executive washroom.

The questions are not: Are floors swept? Are counters and toilets clean?

The real questions are: Is the trash empty, even if there were only three paper towels in the bin?

(they don’t want to see trash)

Did you wipe away any fingerprints left when you opened the shiny chrome stall doors?

(they want you to be invisible)

And, is the water in the toilet bowl a reassuring, disinfectant-blue?

No? We’ve no time. They don’t pay us enough to stay any longer. Night janitors got to hustle to the next job.

Just spritz some blue in there, let’s go.

(they don’t want to see)

(they’ll never know)

Anna Kander is a writer in the United States. She writes with her sidekick, a fearless blue fish who doesn’t realize he’s only one inch tall. Her work is published in some magazines, probably. Find her at

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