Tables at bowling alleys are places, like bus stop benches and public water fountains, where you can almost feel the germs crawling into your body.
The sense is not unfounded. Watch a pair of grimy little hands grip a slice of greasy pizza, reach up to a snotty nose for a quick wipe, then smear the ooze all over the edge of the table before dashing back to the bowling lane for an attempt at a strike or a spare, and you’ll see the table in front of you in a different light.
But not all bowling alleys employ Arthur Fortaliza. His thrice-weekly cleaning effort is the kind of painstaking scrub-down you hope happens — but assume doesn’t — when the last patron has gone home from places like this.
One recent weekday morning, Fortaliza barely looks up as I walk up to the table he’s spraying with a bottle of green cleaning solution. He takes one white towel from a stack and folds it, matching corner to corner before mopping up the puddle of cleaner.
Fortaliza is 43 years old and has Down syndrome. He works here three mornings a week, from 9 to 11, before heading out for life-skills training with an aide. He utters a few words of hello to me, answers a couple of questions, but is clearly not in the business of speaking to some reporter when there is work to do. For two hours, he’ll barely acknowledge my presence. His dedication is captivating.
“He doesn’t stop for anything — he just keeps going and going,” says Barbara Raeburn, the manager behind the counter at the bowling alley this morning. “We have to make him stop working.”