Community Service - Part 2(New Version)
This story is written by David, please send comments and appreciation to email@example.com
Part 2: The Sock Room.
I, David Smith, of Canford, south London, having reached the status of male long-term unemployed (six months), had become eligible for one of the recently elected Authoritarian Female Party's Work Motivation Programme schemes: to be made to earn my weekly Unemployment Benefit payments, by working as a community servant.
On the Monday following my having reached this six-months time limit, I had been picked up at my home address, by two cane-wielding Community Service Officers C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda.
I was eighteen years old, and I had rightly guessed that the two C.S.O.'s were only slightly older than me, at nineteen or maybe twenty. They were both blonde, and C.S.O. Karen, at about five feet, nine inches, was two or three inches taller than her colleague Linda. They were both quite attractive, I thought. Easy on the eye, with their still-developing, yet already eye-catchingly curvy figures, and their fresh, girl-next-door faces ... But then, as the saying goes: beauty is only skin deep.
Their C.S.O.'s uniform was made up of the four colours of the A.F.P.'s flag: blue blazer, green blouse, red, short skirt, and yellow cotton ankle socks. On their feet, they wore the black, thick rubber-soled, backless shoes (like clogs), that were the standard C.S.O. issue footwear.
And, as an integral part of their uniform, the C.S.O.'s hair was cut in the distinctive 'concave bob' style.
Formerly that is, until the moment C.S.O's Karen and Linda had turned up on my doorstep I had thought this particular hair style very attractive. The concave bob suited some girls and women extremely well, I thought. The hair style seeming to enhance, and to make the most of their features. To show them in their best light. At their most appealing. And their most alluring. To me, the concave bob was a sexy hair style.
But, as worn by the C.S.O.'s the predominantly imposing, aggressive-natured females, who arrogantly sported their authority, and who brandished their wicked-looking A.F.P. issue canes with an at-the-drop-of-a-hat menace the concave bob was more like a sinister-looking helmet. Like the unlovely uniform headgear of some militarist female regime.
Right in front of my gawping neighbours, C.S.O. Karen had stood, puffed up with self-importance, and proceeded to officiously read out my Community Service Order.
Upon this formality having been duly observed, the two C.S.O.'s had then frogmarched me to the back of their A.F.P. van, and roughly bundled me inside my gloating neighbour-from-hell, Mrs. Norma Newlove, gleefully assisting them. Shoving me in the back, and imperiously echoing C.S.O. Linda's harshly issued order, telling me to "Shut up! And get in the van, David! Now!"
I had never felt so incensed, as I had at that moment. When I had felt Mrs. Newlove's shoving hand, right in the middle of my back and, with malicious glee she had hastened me towards my awful fate. And I had never so belittled. How would I ever live it down? Mrs. Newlove, I knew, would be dining out on that delicious moment for months. And she would savour its aftertaste, for years.
Then, after C.S.O. Linda had restrained my ankles with the leather cuffs that were bolted to the floor of the van, the two 'arresting' C.S.O.'s escorted me to the Community Service Operations Centre, based in town.
There, the Community Service Liaison Officer, Harriet Harmman, had issued to me five sets of community servant's uniform: white shorts, and white T-shirt with my decidedly ignominious identity emblazoned in bold black letters and numbers, front and back: community servant David 007.
One set, for each day of my Monday to Friday, forty-hour working week. Plus two pairs of rubber flip flops: "There will be a lot of water, where you will be working," the Liaison Officer had told me, with a knowing, gratified smirk on her face.
The Liaison Officer had formally told me that, until I found gainful employment, I would be made to earn my £80 per week Unemployment Benefit payments, by working as a community servant.
The Community Service Liaison Officer, Harriet Harmman, whose auburn hair was also cut in the same distinctive concave bob style as was worn by the C.S.O.'s, was a woman I found to be greatly intimidating. She had a certain, disturbing ... presence. Her authority, seeming to emanate from her in powerful, almost palpable waves. And I instinctively knew that the less I saw of this highly unsettling woman, the better.
And the Liaison Officer had smiled, inwardly, as though at the amusing mental images being evoked, when she had informed me as to the location of the work assignment that she was assigning me to: the Sock Room.
As my two supervisors, Community Service Officers Karen and Linda, frogmarched me, community servant David 007, through Canford town centre, I saw for the first time some of the new ... female-friendly features that the Authoritarian Female Party government had decreed be installed there.
One of these new features, I saw, was situated at the centre of the town square the Public Caning Post.
And tied to the monstrous, T-shaped apparatus, was a community servant. His arms were stretched wide apart; his wrists fastened tightly with plastic cable-ties, close to the ends of the horizontal section of the T-shaped device of chastisement.
I knew he was a community servant, because he was wearing the same, instantly identifiable uniform as myself: white T-shirt, and white shorts. What clinched it, though, was what I saw emblazoned on the back of his white T-shirt, in bold black letters and numbers: community servant Peter 003.
In accordance with the Community Service Officers' text book of chastisement (a slim hand-book copy of which, all C.S.O.'s routinely carried on their person), preparatory to the administering of chastisement, community servant Peter 003's white, elasticated-waist shorts had duly been pulled down around his ankles.
And, upon the white cheeks of his bare bottom, five or six red stripes glowed vividly ... At least, I thought it was five or six. It was difficult to tell; hard to be sure, as some of the angry red weals seemed to overlap previous wounds.
My God! They looked sore, too. And I could actually hear the poor sod moaning in pain.
As C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda forcefully escorted me across the town square, I saw two female members of the public, maybe in their late twenties or early thirties, saunter up to the Public Caning Post. And, savouring their anticipation, they smiled into the wretched, pain-racked face of community servant Peter 003, before putting their bags of shopping down upon the nearest of the dozen or so wooden benches that faced the town square.
Then, as though they were choosing a cue at a snooker club, the two women each selected a cane from inside a cylindrical container, that was rather like an over-sized arrow quiver.
And, carefully targetting one buttock each, with obvious relish they availed themselves of their one-stroke allowance laying their own, personal red stripes across the fully exposed bare buttocks of community servant Peter 003 ... And two more bright-red weals were added to his collection.
The sickening sounds were plainly audible as, almost simultaneously the two chastising females' canes cut through the air, and smacked against each of community servant Peter 003's totally exposed bare buttocks. Whoo! Whoo! Crack! Crack!
"Aaaaahhhh! Aaaaaaahhhhhh!! Ow! ... Ow! ... Ow!" I saw Community servant Peter 003's fingers flex, and bunch ... flex, and bunch, in involuntary nervous reaction, in the throes of his latest eye-watering afflictions.
Females within earshot of community servant Peter 003's agonised cries of pain and pathetic whimpering, responded to the sounds of his anguish with amused and delighted laughs, titters, chuckles and giggles.
And the two chastising females laughed, tittered, chuckled and giggled, too, as they returned the canes to the cylinder-shaped receptacle.
Still laughing and giggling, the two women congratulated each other upon the evident efficacy of the cane strokes they'd just administered I distinctly heard one of them say, between giggles, "Good one, Pam! He certainly felt that! Heh heh heh." And then they picked up their bags of shopping from the bench, and contentedly continued on their way.
I couldn't believe what I had just witnessed. What the ...? What the hell!
What got me, was the casual, nothing-out-of-the-ordinary, no-big-deal attitude, in which the two female shoppers had caned community servant Peter 003's bare bottom. It had just seemed, to the two women, to be so unremarkable an event a non-event. So normal. So ... every-day.
As I wondered what community servant Peter 003 might have done to warrant his humiliating punishment his so-called chastisement C.S.O.s Karen and Linda laughed, tittered, chuckled and giggled, too. And, even though I wasn't resisting, they tightened their grips on my arms; twisted them further up behind my back. And as they frogmarched me across Canford town square, they chewed their gum, and blew bubbles with it, till they burst with a loud popping sound: Pop! Pop! Pop!
On several occasions, my uniform issue rubber flip flops came off my feet. Partly, because I was not used to wearing them yet, but mainly, because C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda were forcing me to walk at a too-quick pace, in them. And when this happened a fourth time, C.S.O. Karen finally lost patience with me. "Carry them, David!" she ordered waspishly.
As I walked barefoot, I yelped in pain as I trod on small, sharp stones in my path. But this was mostly because I was paying insufficient attention to where I was going.
For, in grim fascination, I looked about me at more of the new, so-called female-friendly features. The new contraptions and devices the wickedly-conceived, fiendish apparatus of community servant chastisement that, by decree of the Authoritarian Female Party, were now installed in the town centre.
I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw, on the pedestrianised High Street, the row of four, hideous and barbaric, medieval-style stocks all four of them, occupied by community servants.
On their knees, kneeling upon black foam-rubber mats, the community servants were firmly secured into those wicked devices. And, whatsmore, they were cruelly locked into a position that was not only awkward and uncomfortable, but was also an endless, grievous struggle to maintain: Their arms, pulled upwards, with their hands protruding through the two hand-holes, while their miserable, strain-etched faces poked out of the head-hole, barely a foot above the flagstoned pavement.
As I watched, I saw various females shoppers, girls-about-town; and office workers, shop assistants on their way to work flock to the stocks.
And, depending on their individual circumstances, they might simply put down their bags of shopping, for a rest, or maybe chat to a friend before they went to catch their bus, or maybe they had a spare minute or two, before they had to clock on for work.
And, as they did so, these variously resting, shopping, chatting, on-their-way-to-work females would stand with their backs to a helpless, on-his-hands-and-knees community servant. And, freeing a foot from their shoe, they would reach their foot behind them and upwards, and massage, or perhaps simply rest the sole of their foot, upon the forcibly proffered, conveniently positioned face of the community servant, of who's services they were thus availing themselves.
I distinctly heard some of these females' sighs of blissful pleasure, as they proceeded to massage the soles of their feet hosed feet; stockinged feet; bare feet; socked feet upon the community servants' forcibly proffered, conveniently positioned faces.
Nonchalantly chatting away, and leisurely switching from foot to foot, these females happily availed themselves of this splendid new female-friendly town centre leisure activity. Their faces, a veritable picture of blissful contentment.
There were four more of these cruel stocks, I noticed, at what a sign declared to be Smokers' Corner.
All four of these Smokers' Corner stocks were occupied, too. For it seemed that there was no shortage of community servants, who were in need of chastisement.
At Smokers' Corner, I saw, females wishing to take a break, and enjoy a leisurely cigarette, could also take advantage of this new, highly agreeable town centre facility.
Finally, as we were approaching the far end of Canford's town square, I saw yet another four sets of stocks. But none of these stocks were occupied, at the moment ... And then I saw the reason why.
And again, I could hardly believe my eyes. For there was a large, elaborate sign, that brazenly declared: Prostitutes' Parade.
The large sign, I saw, depicted an erotically illustrated, rear-view picture of a stunning-figured, touting-for-business prostitute.
Bending over, with her pert, tight-skirted bottom thrust in the air, she was leaning into the front passenger side window of a car, purportedly discussing the terms of a transaction with her potential client. Standing with her left leg taking her weight, her right leg was bent at the knee, and the top of her right, high-arched, prominent-heeled bare foot was resting upon her siren-red, ridiculously high-heeled mule sandal.
The Authoritarian Female Party, I later learned, had made it perfectly legal for prostitutes to go On the game. And, on Prostitutes' Parade, for 7 days a week, the 'Good time girls' were at liberty to offer their services between the hours of 10 p.m. 4 a.m.
But, under the A.F.P., no female became a prostitute purely out of financial necessity, any more. These females worked as prostitutes, by choice. Purely of their own volition. Because they wanted to they enjoyed their work, these ... ladies of the night.
Having now crossed the town square, C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda frogmarched me into a side street, and they propelled me towards the large, stand-alone building that was situated about 100 yards further up the street. And, outside of which was a large, animated gathering of chattering girls and women.
As we got closer, I saw that there were twenty-five to thirty females waiting outside the building, who, upon their seeing us approach, abruptly ended their conversations.
I had now arrived at my destination: the Sock Room.
The place where, until I found gainful employment, I would be made to earn my £80 per week Unemployment Benefit payments, by working as a community servant.
Upon their seeing my I.D., as was starkly emblazoned upon my white uniform T-shirt, front and back, in bold black letters and numbers: community servant David 007, a ripple of titters and chuckles broke out among the waiting girls and women.
"Ha ha ha ha! He'll soon be shaken and stirred!" quipped one of them, an attractive, shoulder-length dark haired, buxom woman in her mid-twenties, who's name I later learned was Gina Stainham. And, upon their hearing Gina's caustic witticism, the mildly amused titters and chuckles of the other girls and women turned to a decidedly unladylike, uninhibited ribald laughter.
I could actually feel my face glowing crimson, such was my acute embarrassment.
C.S.O. Karen then detached the bunch of keys from her utility belt and, as she walked up to the main double-doors of the building, C.S.O. Linda held onto my right wrist tightly ... in case I was getting any ideas.
C.S.O. Karen chewed gum, and she blew bubbles with it, till they burst with a loud popping sound Pop! Pop! Pop! as she inserted one of the keys into the door lock.
Immediately upon C.S.O. Karen swinging the double-doors wide open, as if they had been camped-overnight bargain hunters waiting for the Boxing Day Sales at Harrods, the assemblage of girls and women poured through the opened doors in an impatient, headlong rush.
"In you go then, David," prompted C.S.O. Linda, when the last of the crowd of waiting girls and women had entered the building.
Just like many others, in towns and cities all over the UK, Canford town's Sock Room was now officially open.
The first thing that struck me, was that the Sock Room was a much larger building than I had imagined. Much bigger, than I would have thought such an ... establishment, to be.
The Sock Room was split into two levels. The upper level was at street level. While the lower, basement level was reached by descending six wooden steps.
As I entered the Sock Room, I came into a large, open, square-shaped room with three walls. The flooring was of a heavy-duty, light grey linoleum.
The wall to my right, and the wall that was interrupted by the double-doors through which I had entered the building, were both lined with wooden shelves from floor to ceiling. And there were several sets of aluminium step-ladders, to facilitate easy access to those higher, out-of-reach shelves.
The wall to my left, was lined with twelve, twin-wheeled plastic receptacles that, in their appearance and size, I thought, greatly resembled household wheelie bins ... and, upon closer inspection, I realised that's what they actually were.
The wheelie bins were colour-coded. The first eight of these wheelie bins were painted white. Of the other four, one was painted yellow, one was painted black, one was painted navy blue, and the one at the end of the row was painted multi-coloured, like a rainbow.
Directly ahead, at the far end of the upper, street level floor of the Sock Room, six wooden steps led down to the basement level for staff only.
To either side of the six wooden steps, it was a sudden drop-off. At the edge of this sudden drop-off, on both sides of the six wooden steps, was a two-barred safety railing.
And, situated at these two safety railings, and facing towards the basement level, were four black leather, padded recliners. Two, on either side of the six wooden steps.
What, the ...? I wondered.
The floor-to-ceiling shelves, I saw, were fully stocked. Crammed, with brand-new pairs of socks.
Most of the shelves were stocked with white cotton socks. Some of the socks came in single pairs. But most of them, I saw, were of 3-packs, and 5-packs especially the sports and leisure socks, of which there were shelf after shelf.
There were schoolgirls' plain white long socks, and ankle socks.
There were many shelves full of long white socks, that were double-ringed near the tops with either red, green, yellow or blue. I would soon learn that these were the sports socks worn by the schoolgirls of Canford High, the town's largest school. The colours of the double rings, representing each of the school's four Houses.
On the right-hand side wall, the first six shelves were dedicated to the yellow cotton ankle socks, as worn by the C.S.O.'s. These socks came packaged in single pairs ... no economy packs, here.
Some of the shelves contained coloured cotton socks. Whether of a single colour, or multi-coloured. Some of these socks were patterned. While other socks sported designs, pictures, and motifs. So there was plenty of choice, for the girls and ladies of Canford.
A good number of shelves contained black cotton socks. And navy blue cotton socks. Both long socks, and ankle socks.
I later came to understand that some of the younger females had a preference for black socks, as leisure wear. Apparently, they went well with their ballet flats.
But the vast majority of these black socks were uniform socks, worn by the schoolgirls of St Kate's, one of Canford's two girls' schools.
The students from Canford's other girls' school, St Esmeralda's, wore navy blue socks.
On the other side of the two-barred safety railings, down in the basement level, I saw the large, industrial standard laundering apparatus, that it was now my duty to operate.
At the floor-to-ceiling shelves, the females of Canford were helping themselves to the brand-new pairs of socks.
Despite there being a large litter bin in plain sight, after tearing off the sticky plastic bindings and cardboard packaging from the multi-packs of socks, many of the girls and women simply discarded the wrappings, carelessly littering the Sock Room floor.
As they did so, the girls and women discarded their dirty socks, too.
Some of them, I saw, peeled their socks from their feet, and then carelessly (or deliberately) dropped them onto the light grey linoleum floor ... for me to pick up. After all, that's what I was there for, wasn't it?
Some of them; either balling them up into a pair, or singly, deposited their dirty socks into an appropriate (colour-coded) wheelie bin.
And some of the girls and women, gleefully threw their dirty (white) socks directly into the large, open-topped hopper that was situated at the end of the left-hand side of the basement, that was clearly signed: 'White Socks Only!'.
Those ... those taunting, malicious females stood at the two-barred safety railing, to gleefully throw in their dirty white socks personally. As if to make it personal. Very personal. As if they were sadistically saying to me: Ha! Get THOSE clean sock washer!
And Gina Stainham, the attractive, shoulder-length dark-haired, buxom woman in her mid-twenties, who'd caustically quipped that I'd "Soon be shaken and stirred!" now said; and in a loud voice too, so that all of the other sock-changing girls and women would hear her latest comical gem: "Ha! Double-oh-seven? We all know what he's licenced to do don't we, girls? ... He's licenced to wash our dirty socks!"
I cringed with mortification, at being once again subjected to the cruel barbs of Gina's acerbic wit, and having to listen to the sock-changing females' raucous, derisive laughter.
"Come on, double-oh-seven," said C.S.O. Linda. "You can come back up here later, to pick up all of this litter. And to pick up all of these dirty socks from the floor, and put them in the appropriate receptacles. But first, me and Miss Karen want to give you the grand tour of the Sock Room ... Show you your new domain. Where you will be working for your dole money, from now on."
Go on! Rub it in, why don't you? I thought, but didn't say.
C.S.O. Karen instructed, "Go down those wooden steps Sock Boy," she called me, in not wanting to be outdone by her colleague, in the mickey-taking stakes. "Then turn left, and go to the end. To the big, open-topped hopper."
I descended the six wooden steps, and I turned left as instructed.
Down here, in the lower, basement level of the Sock Room, the floor was of a smooth, unyielding dark grey stone.
Pointing to the large, industrial-sized hopper, signed 'White Socks Only!', C.S.O. Karen told me, "This is the main hopper, David. For white socks only ..." A blurred movement overhead catching our attention, we looked up to see Gina, standing at the two-barred safety railing having just hurled her own, balled-up pair of dirty white socks into the main, open-topped hopper. As soon as Gina was satisfied that I knew just what she had done, she sauntered away, looking back over her shoulder at me, smirking.
I glared back at Gina. Barefoot, she walked away slowly, her eyes mocking me. In her right hand she carried her blue-and-white trainers by their white laces, swinging them to and fro as she languorously headed towards the sock shelves to avail herself of a brand-new pair of socks. With her every step, Gina's bare feet; especially the balls of her feet, her heels, and the pads of her toes, picked up bits of fluff and stuff from the Sock Room floor, and I watched her soles accumulating more and more dust and dirt, and becoming increasingly grubby.
C.S.O. Linda waved an attention-getting hand in front of my eyes and said, "Hel-lo ...? Double-oh-seven, get with the programme, eh? I think you'll have to run a quick mop over the Sock Room floor, later. But, for now, listen up: This, is your mission ..." She waited for C.S.O. Karen to stop laughing.
C.S.O. Linda then instructed me, "You empty the white-painted wheelie bins full of dirty white socks into the main hopper. Yeah? See this flat piece of wood? See these wooden steps? You put this flat piece of wood over the wooden steps, to make a ramp ... see? So that you can wheel the wheelie bins full of dirty socks down here, and then return the wheelie bins back upstairs when you've emptied them, so that they can be filled up again with more girls' and women's dirty socks."
So as to ensure that I was quite clear on this, C.S.O. Linda placed the flat piece of wood over the six wooden steps, thereby demonstrating how the construction of the makeshift ramp was achieved.
C.S.O. Linda went on with my instruction. "See these two metal plates on the floor? And this lever? You place the two wheels of the wheelie bins onto the two metal plates, and then you pull this lever. See? Any fool can work it. It's all automatic: the wheelie bin is hoisted up to the top of the open-topped hopper; turned upside down, and the dirty white socks are all tipped out just like household wheelie bins, being emptied into a refuse truck. Ha ha ha!" laughed C.S.O. Linda, pleased with her analogy. Of course, C.S.O. Karen thought it was funny, too.
C.S.O. Linda continued, "See this small door, double-oh-seven, near the bottom of the hopper, with the bolt across it? And these two big white plastic laundry baskets? You open this small door ..." (she slid the bolt, to show me how it was done) "... to get at the dirty white socks. See? It's not rocket science. Just pull them out with your hands," she instructed.
C.S.O. Linda went on, "Now, some of the dirty socks might be balled up into pairs. When they are, you separate them. And you turn the socks inside out that's very important. You make sure that all of the dirty socks are turned inside out, to make sure you wash out all of the sweat and dead skin. And, David, I'm warning you now: if either myself or Miss Karen see any dirty socks that you haven't turned inside out, just like I'm telling you, you are going to be sorry," C.S.O. Linda told me, flexing her cane meaningfully, for emphasis.
She went on, "So, you fill up the two big white plastic laundry baskets, with the dirty white socks, and then ... you empty the two big baskets of dirty white socks ... into the laundry boiler tank, here," she said, as she moved on to said apparatus.
The laundry boiler tank was made of a dull grey metal, and it was raised, situated on a platform about five feet above the floor. It was square-shaped; the sides, about four feet wide, and it was about three feet deep.
It was C.S.O. Karen, who then conducted the next stage of my Sock Room induction.
"See this tank, David? And this lever? And this valve? Put your hand against the side of the tank ... see how hot it is?" she said, when I quickly withdrew my hand from the blistering hot metal.
C.S.O. Karen went on, "You pull down on this lever, and the lid of the tank lifts up ... see?" The lid opened on its hinges from right to left, and clouds of steam billowed out of the laundry boiler tank as she demonstrated the lid-lifting mechanism to me. "You empty your two baskets but, no more than that of dirty white socks into there, and close the lid. And then you let the socks soak, for at least two hours," she instructed.
"And this valve, here," she said, pointing at the red plastic adjusting knob, "regulates the water temperature. See ...?" she said, pointing at the dial, the needle of which, was hovering just below the red danger-zone. "Keep the needle there you'll need to keep the water piping-hot, if you're going to get all of the dirt and grime and foot sweat and dead skin out of the socks."
"Yeah," agreed C.S.O. Linda. "It stands to reason."
Next, and situated just to the left of the six wooden steps, were two large and almost identical stainless-steel sinks. They were of the same dimensions: almost square-shaped, and about three feet deep. The first of these two stainless-steel sinks differed from the second, in that it had a similar water temperature regulating valve and dial, to the larger, and lidded, dull grey metal laundry boiler tank.
Under this first stainless-steel sink, I saw, was a foot-pedal operated detergent dispenser. And under the second stainless-steel sink, were stacked four large dark blue plastic laundry tubs, that were slotted inside each other for space saving.
Unfolded, and standing between the laundry boiler tank and the first of the two stainless-steel sinks, was a set of aluminium step-ladders. And lying across the top step was a pair of long wooden tongs.
It was C.S.O. Linda, who then resumed my Sock Room training.
"See these two stainless-steel sinks, David? And these step-ladders? And these long wooden tongs? The first sink is for hot water. See ... here's the valve, for regulating the water temperature. And see, here's the dial ... showing just under the red: just right. You'll need to keep the water good and hot, just like Miss Karen said, or you won't be able to get the dirty socks clean and then you'll be in trouble," she told me. "Because then we'll have to cane you, for not performing your duties satisfactorily. And when we do, trust me: you'll be in a world of pain, by the time we've finished with you."
C.S.O. Linda continued, "And this is the detergent dispenser, here, under the sink. See ...?" she said, as she demonstrated the pump-action mechanism pump, pump, pump pressing down on the foot-pedal with her right, black, thick rubber-soled, backless (clog-like) C.S.O. issue shoe, and causing several thick, sickly-green gobbets of industrial-strength detergent to spurt into the empty stainless-steel sink. "You'll need to keep the hot water good and soapy, because the dirty, sweaty socks will kill the soap suds." And, as though to emphasise her point, she again pressed down on the foot-pedal and splatted an extra blob of the disgustingly-coloured detergent into the sink, for good measure.
C.S.O. Linda added, "And you use the long wooden tongs to transfer the pre-soaked white socks over, see? Out of the laundry boiler tank, and straight into this other stainless-steel sink, next to it the hot-and-soapy-water sink."
C.S.O. Linda went on, "So, David, what you do is: When the dirty white socks have been soaking in the very hot water for over two hours, you open the lid of the laundry boiler tank. You go up the step-ladders, onto the platform, and you use the long wooden tongs to transfer some of the socks but, not too many; you don't want to overload from out of the laundry boiler tank, into the stainless-steel hot-and-soapy-water sink, right next to it ... see?"
"Then," C.S.O. Linda continued, "you put on your washing-up gloves the water will be too hot for your hands, without them, and they are stored in your janitor's cupboard, along with lots of other laundry things that you'll be needing and you hand-wash the pre-soaked dirty socks one by one until you've gotten each of them all nice and clean.
"Then," she resumed, "as you get each sock all nice and clean, you transfer the all-nice-and-clean socks, into the other stainless-steel sink, right next to it the rinsing sink. You then fill up the rinsing sink with cold water, and you start rinsing the soap out of the socks, by flushing them through and through in the sink full of cold water. You then pull out the sink plug, and you keep on flushing and flushing and flushing, with cold water from the tap, until there's no more soapy suds coming out of the socks ... yeah? Still with me, double-oh-seven? Okay, let's move on to the next piece of kit."
Once again, C.S.O. Karen took over my instruction.
"See these two big green plastic laundry baskets, David, that are all full of holes? Well, you take one of the big green baskets, and you transfer the rinsed socks from the rinsing sink, into the basket. And then you drag the basket full of rinsed socks over here ... to this machine: it's called a mangle."
My God! The contraption was like something out of a museum. Obsolete, for centuries.
"See how the floor underneath the mangle is sloped," C.S.O. Karen went on, "angled towards this grid? Well, what you do, David, is you put one at a time the all-nice-and-clean, thoroughly rinsed socks, between these two rubber rollers ... see? And then you turn this handle, to squeeze water out of the socks ... see? (C.S.O. Karen turned the handle, to show me how it was done). And you put the mangled socks into the other, empty big green basket. The squeezed out water drips onto the floor, and drains into the grid ... See why you need your flip flops, David?"
C.S.O. Linda then opened a door and, after waving me through, she and C.S.O. Karen followed me.
The door led outside, to a large, flagstoned courtyard at the back of the building.
The courtyard was enclosed by seven-feet-high brick walls, and so I couldn't see what was on the other side of them. Wicked-looking, jagged pieces of razor-sharp glass, were liberally embedded into the concrete-topped walls. And the sturdy, steel-reinforced wooden gate, that was set into the far wall, was secured with bolts top and bottom, and had heavy-duty padlocks locking them in place. And, on top of all that, there were motion-detection floodlights, too.
They certainly seemed to be keen on security here, I thought ... But, why the hell why? I mean, it wasn't as if there was anything worth nicking, in this dreadful place!
"See all of these nylon lines, David?" C.S.O. Linda said, pointing to the brightly-coloured lines; red, green, yellow and blue twelve, in all that were hanging about five feet above the ground, and stretching between the two side walls of the courtyard, along side of which lay some wooden props. "Clotheslines," she informed me. "When the weather is dry, you bring the mangled socks out here, and hang them up to dry on these clotheslines. You'll find all the clothes pegs you'll need, in your janitor's cupboard ... Okay, back inside."
Back inside the Sock Room, C.S.O. Karen pointed to the door at the end of a short corridor. "The office, David. Where Miss Linda and I do all of the real work around here: managing the administration of the Sock Room."
It was C.S.O. Linda, who then pointed over towards a small niche, on the other side of the corridor wall. "Your ironing station, David. See? Your ironing board, and your iron."
Though it was a small, relatively out-of-the-way corner, it was still in plain view from the upper level of the Sock Room ... And so the sock-changing girls and women upstairs could watch me, hard at work, ironing their socks. My God! How humiliating was that!
"When it's wet weather, you peg up the mangled socks in here to dry," C.S.O. Linda told me, pointing to more nylon clotheslines.
I noticed that, just like the clotheslines in the courtyard, these indoors clotheslines also, were red, yellow, green and blue ... the colours of the A.F.P. And I wondered if this was deliberate: intended as a none-too-subtle, ever-present reminder of my situation.
C.S.O. Linda went on, "When the turned-inside-out socks are dry, David, you pull all of them through the right way again the girls and ladies of Canford have got better things to do with their time, than having to pull their socks through the right way so you save them the inconvenience. Then, you iron the socks and, to a high standard before returning them to the appropriate shelves, upstairs."
My God! I could hardly believe it. The basement level of the Sock Room, was like ... like something from Victorian times like a workhouse, straight out of the pages of a Charles Dickens novel.
Hel-lo! This is the 21st century ... Haven't you heard of washing machines? Of spin-dryers? And, for your information, lady, I have got better things to do with my time, too, than pulling socks through the right way! I thought. But didn't say.
C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda were both studying my face, watching my reaction. My senses of astonishment, of disbelief, of resentment of incredulous outrage must have been written all over my face.
As C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda studied my face, seemingly reading me like a book, they smirked at me, in that infuriating way of theirs. Chewing their gum, and blowing bubbles with it, till they burst with a loud popping sound. Pop! Pop! Pop!
But then, they began flexing their A.F.P. issue canes, ominously.
C.S.O. Karen said, "Right, then, community servant David double-oh-seven. Let's see if you've been paying attention, shall we, to what me and Miss Linda have been saying to you ... hmm? Have you been listening carefully? Have you been paying proper attention Sock Boy? Hanging on our every word? Do you understand what your duties are, in the Sock Room?"
This was an outrage! I could hardly get it to sink in what was actually happening to me. And, the damn cheek of the girl, talking to me like that! Both of them! They were only a year older than me two, at the most!
"Yes, Miss Karen," I said through gritted teeth. "I understand perfectly."
"Ooh! I don't think I like your tone ... double-oh-seven," piped up C.S.O. Linda, flexing her cane threateningly. "I think you are forgetting your place: You are a community servant. I think you are forgetting about the tone of respect, in which you are to address us your superiors at all times ... Perhaps a few well-aimed strokes of my cane to your bare bottom will put a civil tongue back in your head ... hmm? Mr. Licenced-to-wash-girls'-and-women's-dirty-stinky-sweaty-socks, double-oh-seven."
What, the ...? What an absolute, colossal nerve! And I don't like you, calling me double-oh-seven, you ... you sarcastic little so-and-so, I thought. But didn't say.
"Okay then," said C.S.O. Karen. "We're listening, Sock Boy. Repeat back to us, exactly what your duties are, in the Sock Room."
I sensed trouble. Sensed I had to get this right. Sensed, too, that I needed to keep a "civil tongue" in my head no matter what.
"Well, Miss Karen ... first, I empty the white-painted wheelie bins, that are full of dirty white socks, into the main hopper, signed 'White Socks Only!' It's all automatic, and any fool can do it. And then, I"
"And then, what do you do ... double-oh-seven?" interrupted C.S.O. Linda abruptly.
"I I open the small door, Miss Linda, near the bottom of the main hopper, and I take out some of the dirty white socks just pull them out with my hands; it's not rocket science. I ... I make sure that all of the socks are all pulled inside out, to ... to make sure that I can wash all of the dirt and grime and foot sweat and dead skin out of them, and I fill up the two large white plastic laundry baskets with the turned-inside-out dirty white socks. Then, I climb the step-ladders, go onto the platform, and I empty the two baskets full of dirty white socks into the laundry boiler tank, to soak for at least two hours. And then, I"
"And then, what do you do Sock Boy?" interjected C.S.O. Karen. "After the dirty white socks have been soaking for over two hours?"
"I I climb the step-ladders again, Miss Karen, and I use the long wooden tongs to transfer some of the pre-soaked socks into the stainless-steel sink, right next to it the hot-and-soapy-water sink. But, not too many I don't want to overload it. And then, I"
"And then, what do you do, double-oh-seven?" interrupted C.S.O. Linda, again.
They were both trying to put me off my stride I was certain of it! And they were both smirking at me, in that maddening way of theirs. They were insufferable! Chewing their gum, and blowing bubbles with it and going: Pop! Pop! Pop! They were goading me I knew they were! Trying to provoke me. Trying to antagonise me, into ... into stepping out of line into forgetting to keep a "civil tongue" in my head. So they could cane me! Yes: that's what this was about! Well, I wasn't going to give them the satisfaction!
"I put on my washing-up gloves, Miss Linda the water will be too hot for my hands, without them, and they are stored in my janitor's cupboard, along with lots of other laundry things that I'll be needing and I hand-wash the dirty socks one at a time until they are all nice and clean. I keep the water piping-hot I'll have to, if I'm going to be able to wash out all of the dirt and sweat and dead skin out of them and I keep the water good and soapy, too, because all of that dirt and sweat will kill the soapy suds. And then, I"
"And then, what do you do, Sock Boy?" interjected C.S.O. Karen, again; this time, with a barely suppressed giggle.
"As I wash the socks all nice and clean, I transfer the all-nice-and-clean socks, Miss Karen, into the other stainless-steel sink, right beside it the rinsing sink. Then I fill up the rinsing sink with cold water, and I start rinsing the socks through and through. Then I pull the plug, and I keep on flushing and flushing and flushing the socks through with cold water from the tap, until there's no more soapy suds coming out of them. Then, I transfer the thoroughly rinsed socks into one of the big green laundry baskets, that's all full of holes. And then, I"
"And then, what do you do, double-oh-seven?" interrupted C.S.O. Linda, yet again; but now, just as giggly-voiced as C.S.O. Karen.
My God, they were loving this!
At first, as C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda had begun asking their questions, they had been smirking at me, in that galling, infuriating way of theirs. And nonchalantly chewing their gum, and blowing bubbles with it, till they burst with a loud popping sound Pop! Pop! Pop!
But, by now, C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda were both laughing and giggling so much that, in the throes of their mirth, they were actually clinging to each other for mutual support. And, because they were laughing, when they popped their bubble gum it was bursting all over their lips; on their faces, even, and that was making them laugh all the more. They my so-called superiors didn't even have the sense to stop popping their gum!
Yet, it was my face, that must have been as red as the proverbial beetroot, as I continued ...
"I ... I drag the big green, full-of-holes laundry basket full of all-nice-and-clean, thoroughly rinsed socks, Miss Linda, over to the mangle. I put the socks one at a time between the two rubber rollers, and I turn the handle, to squeeze the water out of the socks. The squeezed out water splashes onto the floor it's why I need my flip flops and then it drains away down the grid. When I've put the socks through the mangle, I put them into the other, empty big green basket that's all full of holes. And then, I"
"And then, what do you do, Sock Boy?" interjected C.S.O. Karen, yet again, through her by now uncontrollable giggles.
"If the weather is dry, Miss Karen, I take the mangled socks outside to the courtyard, and I peg them up on the clotheslines out there there's all the clothes pegs I'll need, in my janitor's cupboard. If the weather's wet, I peg the socks up on the clotheslines inside, at my ironing station, where Miss Linda showed me. And then, I"
"And then, what do you do double-oh-seven?" interrupted C.S.O. Linda, for the umpteenth time. But struggling to get her words out now, she was laughing so much.
"When the turned-inside-out socks are dry, Miss Linda, I pull them all through the right way again the girls and ladies of Canford have got better things to do with their time, than having to pull their socks through the right way, so I save them the inconvenience. Then, I set up my ironing board, and I iron the socks and, to a high standard before taking them back upstairs, and putting them on the appropriate shelves. Then, I ... I ..."
I let my words trail off, at being unable to think of anything else to say. And anyway, I was flummoxed, at not being interrupted again!
Not that C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda were in any state to say anything more, for the moment, clinging to each other, as they were, and giggling like crazy. They seemed hysterical. They just couldn't seem to stop laughing. They were making sobbing sounds, struggling to breathe, and tears were streaming from their eyes.
I said: "Miss Karen, Miss Linda ... Are you all right?"
And they fell apart, all over again. Almost screaming with laughter.
When they had eventually calmed down, C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda resumed smirking at me, their eyes shining wetly. Saying nothing, but popping their gum again Pop! Pop! Pop!
It was C.S.O. Karen, who then said, "Now then, David, what we want to know is ... have you got any questions, for us?"
The way C.S.O. Karen said it, it sounded as if I better had, have a question ... Then something suddenly occurred to me; just struck me, out of nowhere.
"Yes, Miss Karen, I have a question. What about the other dirty socks, Miss Karen? I mean, I know what to do with the dirty white socks; the ones in the white-painted wheelie bins I counted eight of those, upstairs. But, what about the other dirty socks, Miss Karen? The ones that the other four wheelie bins are for: the black socks, the navy blue socks, the yellow socks, and the multi-coloured socks?"
C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda looked at each other, and then at me. Grinning, and popping their gum.
C.S.O. Linda said, "My, my, you have been observant, double-oh-seven." She actually sounded impressed!
C.S.O. Karen said, "It must be his special training, Lindz."
C.S.O. Linda then exclaimed, "Ha! Congratulations, David. Good answer. And you have just passed the test that we set for you."
C.S.O. Karen explained. "See ... that's what those four large dark blue plastic tubs, stacked under the stainless-steel rinsing sink, are for two for hand-washing, two for rinsing. I knew that you'd seen them; I was watching you, and I saw you notice them."
C.S.O. Karen went on, instructively. "See, rather than having to sort out lots of different coloured socks, and washing them separately, in dribs and drabs, we've made it simple, for the sock washer.
"You can hand-wash batches of the multi-coloured, and different coloured or, non-white socks; including the black socks, the navy blue socks, and even the yellow socks, all mixed together.
"You wash those socks, in lukewarm water instead of in mad-hot water using the large dark blue plastic laundry tubs. And you wash them, using a special detergent it's called Kolour Kind, and you'll find it in your janitor's cupboard that doesn't make the colours run.
"See, some of the multi-coloured and different coloured socks are colour-fast that means their colours won't run, David. But some are not colour-fast, and that's why you wash them with the special detergent the Kolour Kind to avoid accidents with the socks' different colours all running into each other, and ruining them," she explained.
C.S.O. Karen went on, "With those four large dark blue laundry tubs two of them with holes, for rinsing, two without, for washing you've got enough to be able to wash, rinse, drag to the mangle, and take a couple of batches of the non-white socks to the clotheslines to peg up. While you leave white socks soaking a bit longer, in the hot-and-soapy-water sink. See ...? You'll suss it out, David, I'm sure."
"That's right," said C.S.O. Linda. "He's not called double-oh-seven, for nothing!"
When she had stopped laughing, C.S.O. Karen resumed, "Having said that, though, in a couple of days, David, you'll find that there are going to be enough of the black socks, and enough of the navy blue socks, and enough of the yellow socks, and enough of the multi-coloured socks in those wheelie bins, to be able to wash them separately, anyway, in batches of their own colour," she predicted confidently. "You are going to be up to your ears, in girls' and women's dirty socks."
C.S.O. Linda said, "So, double-oh-seven. We have now given you the details of your mission."
C.S.O. Karen laughed, and said, "Yes ... So we'll be in our office, David you know where it is getting on with the real work, around here. But we'll be checking up on you regularly. Monitoring you very closely. So no slacking! Now, go about your duties Sock Boy!"
Yes!" said C.S.O. Linda authoritatively, and suddenly all-business again. "Those dirty socks are not going to wash themselves! So, what are you waiting for, double-oh-seven? Get on with it! Get cracking! Start earning your dole money!
C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda turned on their heels, and they walked towards their office, going: Pop! Pop! Pop!
I had never felt so depressed. So down in the dumps. So miserable. I felt as though I was being oppressingly enveloped, by a dismal, leaden cloak. I felt, as though
"What's up, David ... aren't you having a nice time, then, in the Sock Room?" inquired a sarcastic female voice, from the upper level of the Sock Room ... A voice I knew.
Oh, that's just great! I thought disgustedly. Just fine and dandy!
"No," I replied, more downhearted than ever. "No, I'm not, Mrs. Newlove."
Community Service continues, in Part 3.
This story is written by David, please send comments and appreciation to firstname.lastname@example.org