I heard it again this evening. NPR was interviewing someone who had difficulty finding a job. It’s tough out there. We know this, it isn’t new. But what I heard jarred my thoughts. The woman being interviewed mentioned her husband, who with all kinds of education, “can’t even get a custodial job.”
I have heard this before too. People who have held other, in their eyes -more prestigious positions, lamenting the fact that they can’t even, even get a custodial job.
So let me tell you about the custodians where I work. We have a number of enormous buildings – a campus with hundreds of thousands of square feet – floors, carpets, tile and laminates. We have a sports complex that requires special floor and pool care. We have health centers that have sensitive and sometimes hazardous waste. We have kitchens that rival the best restaurants and we feed thousands of people a day – students, staff, faculty and visitors. We host local, regional and international conferences; we offer events featuring speakers from all over the world; we have music festivals open to the community; and we host weddings and parties. All of these areas and events require significant preparation – set up, tear down and cleaning. Lots and lots of cleaning.
Our custodians are professional positions. Many of custodial team members have college degrees; they have certifications in green initiatives, floor, carpet and pool care maintenance. They need to stay abreast of the newest, latest and greatest of cutting edge cleaning tools, resources and techniques. These men and women lead cleaning teams upwards of 40-50 students. They interview, hire, fire, coach, counsel, schedule and mentor young adults and full time staff members.
Lastly, they are technically savvy. Each member orders supplies, handles scheduling, completes payroll and manages correspondence – online.
Our custodians are professional, hard working, educated and talented. So the next time you hear that phrase just a custodian please remember that there is so much more to the job than pushing a broom.