Friday, April 22, 2011

The Cleansing (A Mystery Parable)

For years, the factory workers complained about many things: their pay; the working conditions; the hours. Their complaints were just. The owners were beasts. The workers were treated brutally. The situation was bad. Something needed to be done.

Finally, a reporter came, disguised in the overalls of one of the many workers, to expose the story. One of the workers, who was without fear, showed the reporter around the factory.

"And look!" said the fearless worker at the end of the tour. "Look at the bathrooms! I cannot stand it any more, I tell you."

The dirty door swung open and reporter saw nothing but filth. The bathroom looked as if it hadn't been cleaned in years. The walls were spattered and blotched. The toilets were streaked with discolored droplet trails. The sinks were encrusted with rust and dirt. The stench was unbearable. Mirrors were impact-broken so that one's face was fragmented into angular glass knife blades making dozens of eyes. One's feet stuck to the muck-covered floors, yielding a horrible slurping sound with each step.

It was so bad that the reporter retched.

So, the reporter decided to come back the next day with a camera so that he could show rather than tell the world about the horrid conditions. He did a lead-in spot, standing in front of the factory. He told of the horrid conditions within; about the horrible hours; about the low pay and about all of the just complaints of the embattled workers.

He walked through the factory with a camera hidden in his clothing, showing workers sweating in a noisy room with too little light. He walked through the cafeteria, which served food that looked like slop for swine. He pointed out the duty charts, filled with shifts of unfair length. He even asked some of the workers how money much they made, and the answers were nearly impossible to believe.

"And now," he said, finally. "The summation of the mistreatment of these poor souls. Yesterday, I was shown the bathroom. I warn you, you might want to turn away -- the conditions are not fit for human beings."

But when he threw open the door, he found that the bathroom was spotless. It smelled like pine and the sinks glistened and were as white as the teeth of children. The stalls had been painted a vibrant blue and all of the toilets had new seats. There were even some cheap prints of artistic masterpieces in plastic frames on the walls.

The reporter was amazed. He walked to the mirror and the camera caught his image, but it was still fragmented into glass knife blades. He blinked a hundred eyes in surprise.

The reporter wondered: Who cleaned the bathroom? Who, indeed.

The story never ran on television.

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