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Down to the Nitty Gritty

posted Apr 30, 2014, 6:46 PM by Unknown user   [ updated May 15, 2014, 8:38 AM by Knight Writer ]
Paige Sudlow 

        High school students here at Van Buren do not have the tedious duty of cleaning scuff marks with a tennis ball on a stick through the halls like we did in elementary. We have the privilege of walking through clean hallways every morning. But who does walk around with a tennis ball on a stick? The janitors.


I set out to find what all these unacknowledged staff members do for us each night. I wanted to experience exactly what the janitors have to do on a daily basis before, after, and during school hours.

Upon arranging which janitor I would shadow with the head poncho, Jon Kelley, I was introduced to Deb. We decided that I would shadow her after my practice one day.

My excitement grew as the day came and I anticipated what I would be cleaning up, and how I would be cleaning certain places. Would I see something disgusting? What would Deb reveal? How long are janitors actually here?


I left directly from the softball field to meet Deb a 6 p.m. sharp, but when I got there, there was no Deb to be seen. I waited about 10 minutes, and being an impatient person I started walking toward the bathrooms to see if I could find her. It was the right move because I ran into Cindy Colgate, one of the other janitors. She informed me that she was the only woman janitor working so I ended up working with her.


I expected to help in minimal ways, but she wasn’t shy about asking me to do things!


The gym was first on the list. She gave me big broom to sweep up the dust and dirt as she followed behind me with a big machine that buffered the floor.


As I looked around I couldn’t help but notice all the scuff marks from tennis shoes and the gum that was stuck on the gym floor. Yes, I said gum. It was quite repulsive that many pieces of already-chewed gum were globbed on our brand new court, left for the janitors to clean up. Or in this case, left for me to clean up.


At this point I was annoyed at the fact that my peers would just spit their gum out onto the floor, not only for people to step on and make the mess worse, but knowing they’re leaving it for others to clean up.


Cindy explained to me that the gum is what bothers her the most. That’s what bothered me the most as well.


One of the hardest tasks that I had to do was trying to clean the scuff marks off of the gym floor. Some of them were stubborn

and it was very frustrating at times. Some of them were so set in that I would look like a fool trying to scrub them away.

Cindy looked over at one point, laughed and told me to “just leave it, some of them are impossible to get off.”


She shared some personal things about herself with me while we were cleaning up the nasty gum. We engaged in small talk throughout the evening discussing everything from families and school to the Van Buren community.


She continued talking as we went into the fine arts hallway. We swept the dirt off the floors, and it amazed me how much filth collects in only a single day.


We then ventured into the classrooms to clean off the tables and empty the trash cans. I was told that the trash cans are emptied every night along with sweeping the hallway, but the tables don’t get cleaned as often. That surprised me because we use those tables everyday with multiple people touching them. I felt that those should be one of the main things to be clean.


However, since she had an extra set of hands Cindy used me to her advantage. She would empty the trash cans while I wiped off tables. We had a system going, and it was working really well!


I was having a great time, working hard, and experiencing something new all at once.  The two hours flew by!


Although some people feel that our school sometimes isn’t the cleanest it could be, actually performing the work that the janitors have to do on a daily basis made me realize how much we take for granted in even the little things. It was hard work, and there is so much that needs to be done in such little time with only a small amount of people.


The janitors try their hardest to get everything clean, and they pick out the main things that need to be cleaned on a daily basis. The only thing I didn’t agree with was that the tables didn’t get wiped off everyday, but overall, being a janitor for two hours was tough work; I can’t imagine doing it for eight hours a day.


We as students need to respect the daily work that these janitors do, and realize that they are doing their job so we have a clean school everyday.


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