In the four years I have spent living on-campus, I will admit I never got to know the custodians who worked in each of my buildings.
My first-year was COVID-19, while sophomore and junior years kept me busy to the point where I practically lived everywhere but my dorm room. However, this summer was an eye-opener, and now I bring that message to all of you: Respect our custodians.
For the past three months I have been working as a temporary custodian from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday, Thursday and Friday. Eventually, I was working Monday through Friday and even the occasional weekend overtime.
Over the course of those many early morning hours, I and a small ragtag team of nine experienced custodians made our way through nearly every residence hall on campus. Something I learned very quickly when working in this position is that college kids are filthy.
Not to gross out any readers, but I saw it all. Dirty showers, dressers and drawers filled with hair and stains — many of which I chose not to identify for my own sanity — and enough crumbs and pieces of food in the carpet to feed a small nation.
I do not consider myself a germaphobe, but some of these rooms nearly broke me, with a special shoutout to one room this year that easily racked up nearly $10,000 in damages.
However, what kept me going through the long shifts and the disgusting messes of my fellow peers was the teammates who joined me along the way.
I want to give a special shoutout to Tiff, Chris and Ryan who really made me feel welcomed almost immediately when starting out. It took me a while to really start speaking up and show more of my extroverted self, but eventually I got to be me, and they seemed happy to have me around.
I learned just how much of this campus runs on the hard work of every custodian, and it’s a shame we currently have a much smaller staff than years past. Due to the fewer number of custodians, it requires teams to spread themselves out wider and wider across campus.
On some days, we would begin in Lackhove or Harley and eventually find our way to the CUB or even the entirety of Old Main. Somedays our team of nine would dwindle down to four or three. Some buildings only have two custodians working in them this year.
I know so many would scoff at the notion of being a custodian and cleaning up after one another, but truthfully being a custodian was one of the best jobs I have ever had. Don’t get me wrong: Things were not always glamorous, easy or fun, but no job really is. Being a custodian is not easy, but if you have the opportunity this year, consider taking on the position. You not only learn to value the space you live in, but you learn so much more about what keeps the ligh ts on at Shippensburg University.
If nothing else, the next time you are leaving your room and heading to class and your building custodian is hard at work, stop and say hello. Get to know them and try to learn more about them, and I promise you it will make their day.