The Men Behind the Mops

Paige Ellis, Staff Member

Every day the custodial staff arrives before anyone, and stays late into the night. These unsung heroes are the mystical backbone of this high school. There is a definite stigma surrounding janitors; everyone knows to show great respect to police and emergency first responders, but finding anyone willing to voice their sincere admiration for custodial staff proves to be a task. To some, the daily routines of these hard workers never crosses our minds, but the reality is; without them the school would be much less tranquil.

I have no first-hand experience or much prior knowledge on the goings on of custodial workers, but with my limited understanding, I can say with much certainty that they put up with a fair amount of ignorant judgment. When speaking to Jared, one of our daytime custodians, he said that “unappreciated is a light term when it comes to these kids.” I asked how he thinks us as students portray his job and he responded with saying: “everyone thinks we just take out the trash and mop.” When prompted to elaborate, he began listing the daily tasks many don’t connect with janitors: pulling weeds, setting up events, unlocking doors, and anything involving the grounds of Battle.

At lunch I witnessed the table next to mine leaving messy lunch trays, papers and other trash out for the custodians. When I asked why they don’t just take care of it themselves, the overwhelming response was: “that’s what they’re here for.” This is both untrue and offensive; their job is most certainly not to clean up after lazy kids. Their job is to maintain the school, and do things others can’t, and students are more than capable of throwing their own trays away. When getting insight on how students view custodial workers, an un-named student said that “they are lower than garbage and that’s why they clean it.” Utterly shocked, I wanted to know if there was anything to backup this discriminative portrayal. They followed up their statement with saying, “I don’t have respect for people who settle for less than their potential, and have no goals.” To me the personal path people have taken shouldn’t be cause for scrutiny or belittling. They work hard to keep things nice and your views shouldn’t neglect them the right to the respect they deserve. Little things like dropping some paper and not picking it up, to intentionally smearing lipstick on bathroom mirrors; everything invokes action to take place. The bigger the action, the bigger the inconvenience on custodians and their more pressing tasks.

Without fail, we all avoid our gazes or bump into custodial staff, having the misconceived notion that anyone that cleans up after us is the lowest on the societal totem pole. All immaturity and discrimination aside, the seeming laundry list of time consuming and extraneous tasks done daily makes these employees just as valuable as anyone else. The custodial staff’s jobs are difficult and underappreciated as it is, and we don’t need to add to that with insensitivity and stupid antics that leave messes in our wake. Showing them the respect they deserve is surprisingly simple. Try waving, smiling, or asking them how their day is; little things make a difference.