The clock struck 3 o’clock, signalizing the end of the day. As a sea of students pile out of the classrooms and into the hallway, it is hard to see anything but bodies on the move. Once the majority of the students exit the building, I couldn’t help but notice the stray plate of trash residing in front of the restrooms. In a rush to get home, I left it there, as did the rest of the students.
However, as I was on my way to class the following morning, the trash in front of the restroom was no longer there. It makes you wonder where it went. Who cleaned it up?
Unlike the exaggerated amount of trash, the answer is fairly simple: Janitors.
The aftermath of a school day is always dealt with by our janitors. From classes to restrooms and everything in between, messes are almost always present. But whether it’s before, during or after school, janitors find a way to clean the space. Though cleaning is a janitor’s job, the abundance of trash poses a big question: why do people drop their trash on the floor?
Is it a matter of them not caring? Is it what they normally do at home?
Contrary to what most people may think, I think the problem lies within the lack of empathy that a person has. Given that there are multiple janitors around, people believe it’s okay to leave trash wherever they please. Even if it is their job, what makes it okay for others to cause extra work for them? What makes it morally correct to drop trash when there’s a sense of awareness that someone else will have to pick it up?
Since people have their mind set on the idea that a janitor’s sole purpose is to clean, it’s almost as if the value of janitors lessens, as if their value as human beings is decreased. It’s this ideology that keeps students’ empathy at bay. But we must fight against that belief.
Janitors are people too, and Raven Jones has firsthand experience with this. Last year, Raven helped Mr. Garcia tutor students who were learning English. Raven would sit down with students who just arrived in the US and speak English to them, helping them learn the language. That’s where she met Ms. Kay, a janitor who worked at Manual Arts before moving to Pennsylvania.
“My experience with her was really great. It was last year, I was tutoring ELD students with Garcia. I met Ms. Kay and everything, and we talked a little bit… and I think we really hit it off because she wanted to get to know me. I really have a bond with her.”
After that, Raven spoke about how hard Ms. Kay worked, as well as other janitors.
“I feel like she works really hard, too. And Ms. Kay doesn’t get recognized for that. Especially for janitors, you know how the school is… trash everywhere and everything,” Raven said, “Sometimes, I feel bad because they have to work a lot of hours just to keep the school clean. And the next day, it gets all dirty again. They’re like, ‘man, I gotta do all of this again!’ They don’t get recognized enough, and I feel like they work really hard, honestly.”
Usually, that’s not the way that we see janitors. We walk past them all of the time, and we see a person solely working. But evidently, that’s not all janitors.
“I mean, she’s really amazing. She’s funny, very caring, and supportive. There were times where she would sit with me after school (during her break) and help me with my school work. One time, I showed her one of my presentations, and she told me ways that I could make it better. Right now, I’m still in contact with her, and she told me to make sure to tell her my graduation date cause she said she’ll fly out here for my graduation. I really appreciate that,” Raven said with a bright smile on her face.
“She told me that if I ever need anything, I can just call her or text her. She even said I can live with her! I was like, shoot, let me get my bags then! But yeah, she’s just really caring, so dope.”
And that’s only one janitor, and Ms. Kay is no longer at our campus. Imagine how the rest of our janitors are like. At Manual Arts, we have the following janitors working for us: Andre, Rene, Mr. Howard, Jaime, Ken, Danny and Ms. Diaz.
These are the hard-working people who clean up around the school and deserve recognition for doing so. Showing gratitude to them can be as simple as throwing away your trash instead of leaving it on the floor or in other places. Saying thank you is even better.
So the next time you think about littering, throw your trash away in the nearest bin and remember that janitors are people just like you.