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St Dympna's hospital

Ash Friday

The "Rock of Limerick"

Spring 2003, Ireland —

Gary and I went to Limerick to meet the rest of a team working for the same contract-cleaning business. Gary and I came from Kilkenny, the other two from Waterford.

Gary and I had worked with those two before. Ratboy is a supervisor, down in Waterford. And, on these jobs together, he supervised us. This tended to give us more freedom, since there was always Ratboy's supervision upon which to lay our sins. We really only took the piss out of Ratboy once, taking our liberty with a two-hour lunch hour in Cashel. We went to see the Rock of Cashel.

But that's not normal. Normally the smoke breaks come often enough, and the days finish soon enough under Ratboy's supervision, that it's not necessary or desirable to mess with that. And besides, Ratboy is cool. He's a good soul, under that vicious little heavy-metal xenophobe sense of humor.

We stopped in some little town at Ratboy's insistence — he'd called several times to make sure we'd meet there. So we stopped. We smoked a joint and talked for a while. Everybody got whatever crap they needed from the little convenience store. Then we were ready to drive on into Limerick and get to work.

We went to the revenue office, aside the river Shannon in downtown Limerick. Ratboy gave us each a small vacuum-cleaner. A hoover, as it's called.

Up a couple of flights, and Ratboy sent myself and Gary into a big, open office space. We were to clean the shades with the vacuum-cleaners. There were people sitting at the desks. They were working. I was puzzled, at first, then irritated with the situation. Well, that was it, though; we were to hoover the shades, people or no people. If you have to stand on the desk, go ahead.

I only had to stand on two desks and one printer table. I had to excuse myself frequently, squeezing into many tight spaces and moving people's material around. Nobody said anything about it. I would have wondered why it had to be done during office hours. I would have said something. But nobody said anything. They just went about working on people's taxes. Not a bother.

During lunch, Gary and I made our traditional escape from Ratboy and E_. I think we just sat in the car, and ate, smoked, talked, and listened to the radio. Gary suggested we tell Ratboy that we went to see the Rock of Limerick. We forgot, though.

There's no Rock of Limerick. But there is a nice castle, by the river. We had a good view of it from the long row of windows, as we cleaned the blinds.