Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Care and Maintenance Plus

Joe Olson and Harry Johnson were pretty good guys. We're not sure how many years they spent caring for the buildings in Northwood where we attended school but like good custodians everywhere they seemed as much a part of the faculty as anyone else, and they were always "there." In these photos, Joe is seen apparently sweeping out the old study hall. Harry looks like he's trying to hide behind the seasonal decorations.

Both of them were pretty quiet people, yet neither was afraid to voice an opinion. In some ways they were invisible, in other ways they kind of ran things. At the junior slave auction mentioned earlier in this blog one of them was asked to set up the PA system in the gym. The answer: "You won't need that." He was right, of course, but set it up anyway, just one more thing to have to tear down afterwards.

Somewhere along the line in the course of college studies we learned that the building custodians may be more than custodians responsible for the care and maintenance of the building, and in fact they may be enormously helpful for the care and maintenance of the students contained therein. On at least one occasion Joe showed he was worthy of the task. Standing on the steps at the south end of the building, with one foot up on the concrete wall that served as a hand railing, he overhead a student complaining about his relationship with his girlfriend, and wisely commented, "There are many more fishes in the deep blue sea."

Because they were everywhere, they knew everything, and functioned best by not making a scene or speaking out loudly. Hopefully today's custodians at NKHS have the same commitment to cleanliness and service that these two did, even though they rarely received any recognition for a job well done.

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