07 October 2010

Day 6: Something you hope you never have to do

I am going to add the word "again" to this writing prompt for three reasons:
     *I find it difficult to dismiss something I haven't tried at least once.
     *The only things I can think of involve human waste.
     *I don't want to talk about human waste.

I have a recurring thought. Whenever I apply to a job, or whenever I haven't worked enough as a substitute I think "I really hope I don't have to work a custodial job again." Just so you know, I don't hate cleaning (there's great catharsis to be found in making something dirty look clean again), and I don't think the job is beneath me (no one is too important to vacuum a rug). I just hate the associations attached to the label "janitor." Well, that and men's bathrooms (seriously guys, what's up with that?).

When I'm cleaning, people assume a lot about me. For one, they surmise I'm never thanked for what I do. At one place I worked, people daily recited something to the effect of "I know you work a thankless job, but I just want to let you know that I appreciate what you do." They acted as though they were making up for all the faults of the world with one magnanimous remark, but what I wanted to say was "actually, someone thanked me for taking out the trash no more than 3 minutes ago." I know I should be grateful for their gracious sentiments, but it's not as though I took the job for their "thank you" - I'm in it for the paycheck. I'll take your appreciation the form of cash too.

Second, people aren't sure you're capable of talking about anything else, so they make idiotic remarks about the state of the tiles on the floor, or the pattern of streaks on the mirror, or even the number of stalls in the bathroom. I'd rather discuss Shakespeare, foreign films, or even the latest episode of Glee if you'd prefer. Oh, and my least favorite remark usually happens when I am doing something tedious like washing the windows. Dozens of time I've heard, "well, at least that's job security for you." Really? Why is this job secure? I don't need to waste this time washing the windows if you could just open the door by the handle. You know - the way it's designed to be opened. I could be helping someone get a better grade on a paper, understand the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs, and comprehend symbolism in The Great Gatsby, but no, that job is something the school can't afford because they have to spend their money on time spent wiping your hand smudges off the windows. (Whew, rant over. You have no idea how quickly I typed that. Breathe in, breathe out.)

Third, people believe janitors should do so many things the culprit could have just done himself (I leave in the unintended sexism, because 9 times out of ten, the request is in fact made by a man). As a custodian, I was constantly confronted by a lack of personal responsibility. If I track in dirt, I clean it up. If I spill something, I take care of it. When I throw things away, they make it into the garbage can - not beside it (unless, of course said object can be recycled - then I find a greener bin). I have no desire to hinder people with my sloppiness. My mother taught me well. I expect the same from others, but they must have a different mom. If you can clean up your own mess, do it - don't call for help.

I hope I never have to return to my college and post-college filer job, but I know if I'm hard-pressed to pay back my student loans, I might just have to return to the old broom and dust mop.

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