16: No Use Shaming Over Spilled Milk


The sink is broken.

We’ve been telling our landlord for weeks. Those weeks have now teamed up, divided into groups of four, and bloomed into three separate months.

It’s still a useable appliance, mostly out of necessity. When you need something to work, you’re willing to overlook how much water it leaks into the cabinet below, rotting the wood slowly with glacial striations until 10 years from now the whole kitchen needs gutted and remodeled.

When you need something to work — sinks, landlords, relationships — you’re willing to overlook a lot.

“The sink will be here soon. Next week. Yes. I will be by.”

That’s the maintenance guy. We’ve heard this before. For about seven next-weeks now.

Our fingers have pruned as we wait. Fingertips fluffy with glacial striations.


I feel like a rat when I explain to the landlord that the new sink still has not come.

A tattle tale. Or is it tattle tail? Rats have tails. As do rattlesnakes.

“He told us he would be here soon. We’ve taken off work to be here, when he’s here. But he’s not here. He’s never here when he says he will be here. The sink is still here. The old sink I mean. The sink that is still leaking. It’s still leaking.”

People like me would fold easily under police pressure. Our weaknesses leak out of us like the water from this sink, like purging things you own when you move, like falling out of love. Slowly, cautiously, then all at once.

“This is bullshit.”

I’m weak but also I overthink and I am untrusting. And I don’t like getting people in trouble over stupid things. I don’t like getting people in trouble in general.

It’s the maintenance guy’s job to fix this sink and he’s lied about when it’s coming. I know. But it still feels insane to get angry over something so material, so inconsequential.

Then (and this always happens after the anger has subsided and I’ve had time to think about what I’ve done, no matter how justified), instead of shaming the person who has lied, I topple down the rabbit hole of my own shame and guilt with one careless push of a judgmental god’s golden finger. Some people don’t even have water to leak all over their faux granite countertops.


The sink is still broken.

This morning I bought some milk for my coffee, carried it home, poured it in my mug, threw it down the broken sink, thundered through a storm of swears, marched back down to the gas station where I bought it, slid the jug across the counter, asked for my money back.

Sour milk, sour puss. Lumpy. You’d think cottage cheese accidentally went into the jug instead.

I walk back home angrily along the sidewalks. Caffeine free. A truck turns onto the street as I pass. A stone pops under the truck tire and suddenly I’m transported back 15 years, sitting around a campfire at dusk thinking about how a stone popping under a truck tire sounds like a bullfrog croak.

I haven’t slept well in a few days. The cicada screams have been keeping me up at night. Did I ever really think there wouldn’t be bugs in the city? The biological drive to mate doesn’t give a shit about the tax rate.

Everything’s here but the maintenance guy.


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