Cleaning and Eyes

Don’t worry, I didn’t splash cleaning fluid in my eyes this morning.

For anyone who doesn’t know me (read: all of you), I can be sort of anal at times. I know, this is shocking, but true. I’m trying to repress it, but mostly it comes down to people being polite less often then they should be. (This would be a good time to talk about my differentiation between wanting to be nice to people for PC reasons and wanting to be nice to them just because, well, it’s nice. But I’m already combining two topics today, so you have to wait.) I have to be honest here, I’m not a cleanfreak (neatfreak, sometimes, but even that is being whittled away over time as I get busier) but I do like things to be relatively clean and free of the largest clumps of dirt and dust. My roommates in the townhouse senior year may think I’m the filthiest thing ever since I would let two weeks go by before cleaning the bathroom, but what can you expect when you live with four girls? (Note to self: never live with four girls again.) I sweep my place and wash what’s needed and have done with it.

Anyway, since I’m being paid back $100 a month to keep the apartment building hallway relatively clean and vomit-free, today I swept and mopped.

I try to do this on a regular basis, which probably averages out to once every two weeks and should probably be every week, but hey, I’ve got things to do. In any case, I returned from vacation last night to find the hallway full of more dirt than I thought would be able to accumulate (but luckily no vomit). I really don’t understand how three weeks of walking in and out of a building could produce this much dirt, but it did. I can deal with the dirt–a little sweeping, a little mopping, no big deal. Thing is, I also had to sweep up cigarette butts, bottle caps, an empty beer bottle, chunks of cardboard, and random other crap. What’s the deal here? Have people become so idiotic to totally trash the place they live? Granted these aren’t the nicest apartments in town, but they serve well, are warm in the wintertime, and with a little decorating can be made look nearly as nice as everywhere else. So why would you, no matter how drunk, toss your crap in the hallway as you came in or out of your apartment? If you’re bringing a girl (or guy) over and want to make an impression, is the impression that you live in the ghetto really the one you want to make?

The question is, how to fix this problem? We can call it a problem because it creates more work for me when people throw their crap everywhere and don’t think anything about it. I could go and talk to people about it, but a) I don’t feel like it, b) I don’t know when everyone is home and c) judging by some of the people who live here, it might create more of a mess out of spite. So what to do? I was planning on getting a couple doormats when I go out next to catch dirt when it comes in the building, and if possible I wanted them to say something like “Wipe your feet!” on them. Then I got to thinking: this is so obvious, is there a more subversive way to deal with it? Of course there is! It may not work as planned, but it should be interesting to try.

According to this paper in Science, the sense of someone watching you (in animals and humans) induces altruistic behavior. This can be seen in fish and birds, but also in humans. A “donation box” with eye-shapes (dark pupil surrounded by white sclera) on it supposedly gets more donations than one without the eyes because of the sense of being watched. Could this be my solution? Is keeping the place clean enhanced by putting down doormats with eyes on them? Would putting eyes on a bar of soap or a bottle of shampoo make you wash yourself more seriously? I wonder how the eyes are associated with the object?

I’m interested in trying this out. I may not be able to find doormats with eyes, but I could surely paint some on to see if my scheme works.

UPDATE: Here is the doormat. I’m pretty sure it is not having the desired effect, but it is better at trapping dirt than the one that was there before.

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