An Ode to Janitors


I’ve ran into countless instances where the school janitor happened to be my savior. That might sound bizarre and unusual, but it’s true: they are surprisingly helpful. When we think of a school system, we think of the most “important” people. We think of the principal, teachers, advisors, counselors–all the people who you see actively helping out students. You don’t often think of janitors.

But in truth, you should. Janitors are like the undercover caretakers of the school. I used to think that–as harsh as it sounds–they were just part of the backdrop to the school. Most of the ones at my school are very nice, and often stop to chat with students. I didn’t really notice this until after my experiences with them.

For instance, I had the most terrifying incident this past Friday. My friends and I planned a get-together after school ended and come back to school later to see a school play. I left my backpack where I usually leave it–leaning against the gates of the tennis courts. Mine was among five or six other bags so I trusted that it would stay safe there, since there are always students we know who stay after school to play tennis. Without a thought, I left it there, just as I always did. And so we walked to the plaza and ate frozen yogurt and had dinner at Carls Jr.

We ended up losing track of time, and we ended back at school at 6:30. When we got there to retrieve our backpacks, they were gone. I immediately started panicking and thinking of where it might be. The front office? The lost and found? Or could someone have stolen it? We looked all around campus and found the front office to be closed and the lost and found to be empty. Sick to my stomach, I began thinking of all the things I had in there: my tablet, my glasses, my headphones, a semester’s worth of assignments and notes, $30, my uneaten lunch, my library book, and my reviews for my finals the next week. The list went on, and I couldn’t help thinking of how important all those things were and what I would do without them. My life was back in that backpack.

We walked and walked in what seemed like circles (our campus really isn’t that big). Finally, we spotted a janitor who just got off work and was on his way home and asked if he knew where they might be. He responded by saying that he wasn’t in charge of that area, and that he would help us look for them. After 15 very panicky moments, we found them lying in a classroom. I was so relieved. We received a sturdy lecture about how we shouldn’t leave our stuff there and were let go.

Now that I look back, it was pretty idiotic of me to leave my stuff unattended at my school (my school isn’t located in the best of areas). I have truly learned how lucky I was that my stuff hadn’t gotten stolen. (The janitor told us a story of a girl who got a new Macbook stolen).

And due to this instance and many others (one janitor helped my friend dig through the trash can to look for her retainers), I have a true respect for janitors now. Outside their jobs, they help out purely out of the good of their heart.



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