Missed opportunity.

Today, January 12th marked the first instance this winter where we have received any sort of sizable snow fall. Yesterday, it was like 60 degrees and I was outside in shorts playing basketball. In January.

I am pleased with this. I like playing basketball and cycling, but I too, am a fan of the snow. While most people will spend the next few days indoors hiding. I will probably spend my days outdoors hiking . I will not be enjoying going to work however. For those who do not know, my day job is that of a custodian. I clean up after people.

Tonight, while digging out a vehicle to get me to work, and dreading what I knew awaited me, I realized that I missed an opportunity to do something that I had initially conceived a long time ago. When I first got a job as a custodian, I really wanted to write a blog about the experience. When someone is talking about not having a job, or looking for a job, I almost always recommend they look for a job as a cleaning person. I have several reasons for suggesting it, but one that I never talk about is the life experience of being a lowly janitor.

I really think that everyone should give it a shot. You see, apart from people who have been custodians/janitors in the past, most people you interact with on a daily basis as a custodian suck. In the hierarchy of jobs at a business, the perception is that the lowest job in the ladder is that of the person who cleans up after everyone else. What that usually means is, that everyone is rude and inconsiderate towards you. That isn’t exactly true, but a lot of times it can feel like it.

It’s not exactly true, because most of the time it’s not intentional. The place I currently work at (I have had a couple stints as a custodian, working for a contract cleaning service) has me in a position where I am cleaning while the factory is still operating; meaning that I must interact with the people who are working there. I get a long with most of these people, they like to small talk, they always say hello and have been accommodating when I’ve needed help with something (usually finding something or needing something moved).

I didn’t think about writing this janitor blog idea again until today because it’s the first snow fall of the season. What that means to a janitor is mud. Lots of mud. What that means is lots of mopping. Nobody likes mopping, it’s essentially the only task a janitor has to worry about causing debilitation. After a few hours of mopping your back is aching and your hands are on the way to feeling like those of a person who’s been building a textbook case of arthritis for 60 years. That is already the night you’re looking forward to when you see the snow. The night you’re looking forward to when it’s snowing and you have to work in a building full of people walking around is the same except that you add a great deal of frustration on top of it.

I am consistently blown away by how little people pay attention to what’s going on around them. On evening’s such as these, a person’s job is difficult enough without having to deal with people. I understand that in working conditions such as these, occasionally there will be times where a person must walk across a freshly mopped, or in progress of being mopped floor, but considering our working relationship thus far has been a mostly positive experience, why wouldn’t you pay attention to where you’re walking and perhaps  walk on the least amount of floor as possible? Retrace your steps, do something, don’t walk around in circles and criss-cross the space like you’re lost. I now have to re-mop that space, and if you could contain your dirt to a small area, it means I didn’t just lose 10 minutes of work, but just a minute or two.

Is it a common thing to not look down before you walk? I always just assumed that everyone looked before they took a step, as it’s what I do, but the number of times I’ve had guys walk across freshly mopped floors or track through a pile of dust I just swept up is way too high for that. I think that most people don’t realize that when your feet are wet, they leave pure black foot prints on wet surfaces.

I’m tired of writing. Become a janitor, learn to look before you step and let’s have a better world. Be kind to your janitor, they keep your work place clean and deal with a lot of crap (pun?!) that you don’t want to deal with. They get paid a lot less than you, but I bet your job would be a lot more miserable without them.

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