Thanksgiving 2017: Sanitation and cleaning crew

Series Introduction:

Back in October I had a grand plan to have 23 days of thanks.  Unfortunately, life got in the way, and I never had the time to pre-write all the posts I wanted to.  Rather than giving up, I’m going to punch out as many as I can before the 24th.  Since I want to focus on the month of thanks, by giving thanks, I’m not going to be writing any technical posts.

Some of these posts will be discussing jobs that are dirty and with dirty jobs, naturally comes some dirty details.  There’s someone dealing with this stuff, so if the closest you get to anything I write about, is the words in this post, consider yourself lucky (and be thankful).

Sanitation and cleaning crew:

I was at the KOP mall with the family sometime over the summer, and I distinctly remember waiting for the wife and kids to complete their bathroom stop.  The act of the bathroom breaks itself wasn’t exactly a memorable one, it happens all the time.  What made me remember this specific event was the sanitation worker.  It was an older guy, and he was taking care of anything from changing the trash in the food court to cleaning the restrooms.  I had looked up from my phone and he was smiling while he worked.  I kept my phone down and admired him for a minute.  It’s rare to see most people smile at what they do, especially when it’s cleaning up after someone else.

At one point, he walked into the mens bathroom to empty the trash, and when he came back, he looked at me, and said something to the effect of “I swear I can never win this battle” and then we both laughed and moved on.

Aside:  If you’re wondering what happen to the wife and kids, you’re probably a male.  Let’s just not think about that trivial detail, but if you must, the blame is 100% going on the kids.

Now most of us walk past these amazing folks all the time, and probably don’t give them a second thought.  I know I’m guilty of this.  However, I’m never more keenly aware and thankful for them than when I walk in a Men’s bathroom.  Here’s the thing, “men” are pigs in the bathroom.  I know some of you aren’t, but most of you are.  Not lifting the lid up in the stalls (you can guess what’s all over the seat), leaving your toilet paper shreds all over the floor, letting paper towels that fell out of the trash lie on the ground.    You know how else I know that most men are pigs, I used to have to clean up after them myself.  While going to college, I used to be a butcher’s assistant.  I’d come in, and basically clean up after the guys, and the place was always a total shit hole.  So, while I’ve never cleaned up someone else’s urine (other than my kids), I can at the very least empathize with cleaning up someone else’s mess as a job.  It’s a tough, unrelenting, unappreciated and ultimately an undervalued job in our society, and we owe these folks better.

How can you be thankful?

Here’s the thing, saying thanks is probably the most disingenuous thing you can do, if that’s all you ever do.  While I’m not a sanitation worker, I’ll take a stab at a few ways you can say “thanks” through your actions.  These are some things I personally do.

  • Lift the lid up when you go pee (male specific of course). Besides the fact that no one wants to clean up your urine, I suspect YOU don’t want to sit in anyone’s urine either.  I used to think the biggest offenders were kids, until I saw more than a fair share of men (I mean little boys) doing this.  I got news for you, don’t ever sign up for a sharpshooting contest, your aim sucks.
    • For the record, moms, I get that you can’t supervise your kids (or husbands), but you can instill the behavior at home.
  • If you pull the TP and a little shred breaks off, pick it up and throw it in the toilet, don’t leave it lie on the ground.
    • If you don’t want to touch the floor, I assure you where you’re getting ready to put your hands is equal to or dirtier than that floor.
  • If your trash won’t fit in the trash can, go find another trash can, and let management know. Don’t keep stacking the trash.
    • This goes for any trash can for any need.
  • If you spill something on the table or ground, clean up after yourself. No one is expecting you to carry a container of Greenworks around, but you can take a napkin and at least make sure you get the substances removed as best you can.  If it’s bad enough, let someone know.
  • Take all your trash with you when you leave.

I’m sure there’s other things we can all do, and if any sanitation worker wants to make a recommendation, I’ll be glad to add it.

Closing:

As genuine as I possibly can, I want to thank everyone that’s responsible for making our spaces clean.  Like most jobs, no one appreciates you when you do your job well, but everyone will be sure to let you know when you’re not.  I want you to know, I notice when the bathrooms, or tables, or whatever it is that you clean, is clean.

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