"Can I just toss this, or do you need to recycle it?" she wants to know.
HORTLY AFTER Massachusetts elected Republican Scott Brown to the senate seat once held by the late Edward Kennedy, a cleaning lady for the U.S. Congress, Mrs. Alma Krump, noticed that a number of Democrats in both the House and Senate "were just sort of sitting there in their seats, not really doing much except taking up space."
According to Mrs. Krump, the Democrats "never were exactly balls of energy to begin with," but now appeared "all washed out and dusty looking, like they needed to be plumped up and rearranged or something."
Eventually, Mrs. Krump approached a Democratic Congressman during her evening cleaning rounds. "That's when I realized he was empty. 'Hello?' I called in his ear, 'anybody in there?' Nothing. I poked at him, and there was this creepy hollow sound, and then he just crumbled into a little pile of dust. So I swept him into my dust pan and carried him over to the back corner of the chamber, over there, where the rest of them are now, too," said Mrs. Krump, pointing to a mound of dust about the size of a couch pillow. "I don't like leaving any kind of mess behind," added the veteran cleaning employee. "I'm pretty thorough."
At first Mrs. Krump alerted the aids to each Congress person "so they would know, you know, maybe they needed to explain it at a press conference or something. But the aids were all 'whatever' and 'yeah, thanks,' pretty much like they didn't care. So after awhile I just stopped bothering. I figure, if they want to know they can just come over and ask me. It's no state secret or anything."
Likewise, over at the Senate chamber, Mrs. Krump has been efficiently sweeping up Democratic senators, "one at a time, just the same as the other group," adding to her little dust pile "closest to the bins, so when I'm ready to dump 'em, I can do it in a jiffy."
When asked her opinion as to what might have happened to turn Democrats into dust, Mrs. Krump said, "They always were kind of whiny and wimpy, like 'oh, I can't sign that, what if someone doesn't like it,' or 'don't make me fight the mean Republicans, they might yell at me.' Just sort of weak and crumbly. So maybe this was coming all along."
Mrs. Krump says she's "getting tired of looking at the same two piles of dust every time I come on my cleaning shift" and intends to ask her supervisor "whether this is considered garbage or needs to be recycled.
"Whichever it is, I don't care, I just want to finish what I started," said Mrs. Krump. "I don't like leaving a job undone."
© 2.11.10 Kate Heidel