OK

I grew up working in blue collar jobs and have an instilled respect for people who do the daily tasks that other folks do not like. Fast food workers, garbage truck drivers, administrative assistants, and what this diary is about --- Janitors!

When I was in my prime, I used to work from 4:30PM to 1:00AM as a janitor. Now, I have held many jobs in my life and some of the most important ones have been the lowest paying and most fulfilling. I can say (without a doubt) that the jobs I did as a janitor were some of the most meaningful jobs I have ever held. I am regretful that I don't have a single picture of my own to share from those seven years of my life, I never once thought to document any of it!

This diary is an homage to Janitors everywhere and I count myself fortunate to have been in their ranks for seven of my most formative years.
janitor photo: Janitor 100_4399.jpg  

Stock photo of a school janitor from photobucket

Background:
the origin of the word Janitor comes from the Roman God Janus So, even in antiquity a janitor was a gate-keeper watching out for you both coming and going. The month of January is also named after this same "God". When you think about any institutional building you enter, chances are a janitor opened the doors before you and closed the doors after you, cleaned up any messes you made, and all too often it was probably the same janitor, which means that they were at work for 12+ hours often without any added compensation!

I often wonder how many janitors are Kossacks here, there should be a bunch, but I don't hear them speaking out much! So I have no idea if any diarists here are part of the janitorial community?

If you work in a place with janitors, do you know their names, about their families, or life stories? If not, please take the time to not only introduce yourself to them, but to get to know them as they are usually the most industrious, conscientious, and compassionate people that you will ever have the good fortune to meet.
In 2010, the median pay of a janitor working in the US was $10.68 per hour. Bureau of Labor Statistics

My Story:

I once worked for a company that for two school years posted me at Blue Lake Elementary School and Pacific Union Elementary School (about 8 miles apart) and my only means of transportation was by bicycle, so my entire lunch break was consumed with riding from Blue Lake back to Arcata, CA and then I would immediately start another 4 hour shift.

This was a tough row to hoe and after two years; my employer (Freitas Janitorial) started sending me another 8 miles to Eureka, CA at 1:00AM to clean a restaurant (King's Table) for another 3 hours. Well, I finally burned out after about 3 months of having to ride to Eureka every night after a full 8 hour shift, and without any overtime pay.

The work wasn't what killed me, it was riding 32 miles every night just to go to the different places they sent me. I loved working as a janitor, I was good at it and I could have done it in perpetuity if the company had not sent me to three different places (several miles apart) every single night.

I was able to convince the gas station/mini-mart that I had been working at on the morning shifts (a much less fulfilling job!) that having me full time was in their best interest, and I left the janitorial night life. But, I missed the work where I always felt like keeping things clean was helping others and served a greater purpose than myself.

While I was working at elementary schools, at the beginning of every school year, invariably I would find turds in the urinals of the kindergarten boys rooms. physiologically this seemed like a difficult feat and I always felt bad for the kid who had contorted himself just enough to complete this deed, and I understood that he probably did this out of a desire to do what was right.
This was way before any South Park episodes

I would always leave a nicely worded note to the teacher that one of their conscientious students tried to do the right thing, but in the wrong receptacle.. and within a week or two the problem was always solved (Yeah, teachers are underpaid and under-appreciated for all that they teach)! I hope some of those kids grew up to be janitors because the profession is a natural magnet for people who go out of their way to make the world better for folks who are less thoughtful than them. I'm sure a few exist, but I have never met a selfish or inconsiderate janitor!.

An inspirational story:

One of the most inspirational stories of how humble, heroic, and hardworking folks sometimes become janitors is the story of William J. Crawford. A janitor who personifies caution against judging people by their work labels.

If you work in a building that has janitorial services, I urge you to take the time to get to know your janitors as colleagues and friends!

This is Tharu1 and Joe Dirt saying "Roger Wilco" and out...

Originally posted to tharu1 on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:05 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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