Not so cheery?

November 20, 2019

The unfortunate truth is that, so much as I have loved this venture into the wild world of janitorial work, there are moments in which chronicling custodian life must include the less-than-cheery moments. When I embarked upon this venture, a part of my reasoning was that I wanted to be a better person because of it. And I also wanted to make a sort of, frankly, prideful statement as I did it out of my own choice. But of course, the simple fact that I HAVE such a choice makes me a poor candidate for truly bearing witness to real life custodian work. Today something happened that gave me pause: I’m still not sure how the event really impacted me so, for now, I will simply relay the event as it occurred…
During my main flurry of the day, in the final lunch cleanup marathon, I was called out of the lunchroom to attend to an attention-needy bathroom. It was, suffice it to say, an unpleasant neediness.
With my back to the door, the cleaning cart propping it open, I was tackling the mess when 7th grade lined up outside their classroom door, just across the hallway from me. In the midst of the chattering, I hear a comment spoke softly enough that it was clearly not expected to be heard by me. But I hear it—a tittering, sing-songy, “Miss Jan-i-terrr.”
I turn around and see some of the students watching me while 2 boys face the wall, apparently giggling. “Yes?” I ask. One girl, sounding admirably bold, nudges one of the boys. “Hey-she answered you!”
At this point the teacher has come and, suspecting the scenario, goes into instant action. She takes the arm of the boy being spoken to by his classmate, brings him over to me, and asks, “Was he being disrespectful? What did he say?”
Though there was little to actually relay, I tell her. She then responds in a way that I later go and compliment her for: she has him introduce himself to me and ask me my name. When I have the later private conversation, she admits to me that she questioned her own reaction. Though it seemed to me to be a thoughtful and trained reaction, she says that she hadn’t known what to do … but that she was angry.
At the end of the day, it turned out reasonably well. He was asked to come and help me with the most labor-intensive part of the day’s cleanup, and I enjoyed his working company. As for what he took from the interaction, I have no way of knowing: his assistance was subdued and somewhat stoic. Processing continues on my part. Perhaps I will have more to say about it later. But for now, I will simply “illustrate” this post with a photo Peter took of me and the goats this past weekend. I was feeling the love, you might say …love aided by the fact that I held tasty banana peels in my hand 😉

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