There are some things that are inordinately important to the Marine Corps. Fresh haircuts, sharp creases, and shiny wax on linoleum floors. Doesn't matter if the building is falling apart, field day comes and someone is waxing and buffing the floor. The ex-Lance Corporal, or new PFC, from the last story? The Marine we left on police duty? He was that someone. Wax a section, buff it. Work your way along the hall. Get to the end and go up a deck.
Our squadron's enlisted barracks was fairly new. The squadbays were gone, it was two man rooms, three decks high. We worked three shifts, so the rooms made it nice. Some Marines were always asleep, even mid-day, with shifts starting at 1630 and 2330.
In those days, we wore black leather boots with black soles. At the top of the ladderwell, where you turned onto the deck, the wax had black heel marks, some of them under a layer or two or eleven of wax. After one of the weekly inspections our intrepid Marine got instructed to get the heel marks off, strip off as much wax as necessary, but clean up the linoleum and re-wax it.
Perhaps more instruction was needed. Perhaps he could have been given supervision. Perhaps that supervisor could have provided wax remover and the correct buffing pad. But once again, if that had happened, we would not have a story.
Lacking supervision and unable to get the heel marks off, he had a moment of inspiration. Over in the hanger there was something that would get the heel marks off, get the wax off too, he was sure of it. It came in metal five gallon cans. He'd seen it used, it would clean up grease, oil, hydraulic fluid, fuel and just about anything else. Wipe off a section of wing with it and it was clean and dry in minutes.
You can't buy this wonder solvent any more, I think it got banned in the Nineties, but back then we used it liberally. In a big open hanger or out on the flightline, it disappeared into the air to go destroy the ozone layer. It was called 1,1,1-Trichloroethane. Click that link and you can see, however, in a closed space, a concentration of the stuff in the air causes dizziness, loss of coordination, loss of consciousness, and death.
It will also get heel marks off linoleum. A cupful probably would have stripped the wax off and if he had been quick about cleaning it up, it would have been just the ticket to speed up the job.
But, as I mentioned, it came in five gallon cans. He drove over to the hanger and got one. Came back and poured about a gallon out on the 3rd deck and spread it around with a swab, then went down to the 1st deck to have a smoke while he waited for the wax to soften, leaving the 1,1,1-Trichloroethane evaporating into the closed space of the interior corridor.
A few minutes later, reeling and coughing, a Marine came down the hall and pulled the fire alarm. The base fire department responded, although by the time they had their respirators and air tanks on, everyone was out of the building. A room search was conducted just to be sure. Everyone got checked out and were found to be okay once they were breathing air again.
Large ventilation fans, normally used to push smoke out of buildings, were set up. The solvent was identified and once it evaporated and was vented, the building could be re-entered.
The heel marks were gone, so there's that, but the linoleum was gone, too. Not completely gone, just dissolved to sort of the consistency of peanut butter. You could scrape it up with a putty knife. The linoleum and the glue came right off. After the cleanup was complete, there was bare concrete floor everywhere the solvent had been applied followed by a ragged edge of ruined tiles, and then a shiny, ready for inspection, waxed floor from there on out to the fire exits.
I don't remember what if anything they did this time. I'm not sure that any official action was taken. If I remember it right, he got sent back to the shop under the assumption that it would be better to have him where he could be supervised than working alone in the barracks.