It’s Time to Treat Our Janitors Better by Caitlin

In general, janitorial work is part of an industry where cleaning personnel rarely get thanked or tipped by clients. Most janitors, excluding school custodians, daytime janitors, and those who do team cleaning, tend to work at night after office hours, giving them no opportunity to mingle with coworkers or receive feedback on the work they’ve done. Thus, it is definite they need other ways to feel appreciated and motivated.

In America, there is a common view that it doesn’t take much effort or intelligence to do cleaning work. This attitude does little to help uplift the self-image of the nation’s two million plus janitors, who work hard doing very tedious and sometimes very dangerous work for the American public. It also doesn’t help when movies and television shows continue to portray them as lazy or as failures.

“Everyone assumes if you’re a janitor that you hit rock bottom,” states Natalie Walters, tech reporter at Motley Fool and former janitor. For many, it’s actually a career they choose. “I enjoy doing things that other people don’t really enjoy doing,” says Dirk Margheim, a janitor from Alexandria, Louisiana. “That means sweeping, mopping, dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms, cleaning the toilets, cleaning the kitchens… I try to make sure that everyone else can have everything they need so they can stay productive doing the jobs that they do.”

Most of the work janitors do are usually done indoors. However, some work outdoors, which can be physically demanding and unpleasant depending on the time of year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, janitors are paid about $24,000 per year, or $11 per hour. Although they are paid minimum wage, they contribute so much for our country’s economy and social systems, yet they still aren’t given enough recognition for their services.

To properly express your appreciation of your custodian;s cleaning and maintenances at the building you spend the day in, you can:

  1. Thank them face-to-face. Simply tell them how great of a job they do and how grateful you are of the role they play in keeping your environment clean and safe.
  2. Try to keep the mess you make to a minimum. While you should do this every day, it’s only courteous to keep the areas you occupy as clean as you found them. Some people take on the attitude that it’s the job of the custodian to clean up the mess you make. This is not so. Buildings where people go to work, attend school, etc. constantly require custodial attention. They don’t need extra work from you.
  3. Get them a card. Sure, a ‘thank you’ is nice in person, but a card really goes the extra mile. Cards are an easy way to incorporate everybody with signatures from everyone in your class.

Janitorial work is certainly not the only profession that is misunderstood and undervalued and it is indeed unfortunate that there are people who discredit all kinds of workers who do menial yet essential jobs in our society. Everyone deserves respect and acknowledgement for the services they provide, no matter what level of education or skill it requires. Our Benicia High custodial staff does an amazing job at keeping our school safe and clean everyday in order for us to stay productive. It would only be right to thank them even if by lessening the amount of trash you leave behind on campus. If it weren’t for them, many of our students wouldn’t be able to enjoy the level of convenience that they enjoy. 

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