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MunicipalIAMA custodian at an elementary school AMA

Sep 2nd 2015 by elementroejoy • 20 Questions • 332 Points

I've posted one of these before a couple years ago but that was when I worked the night shift, now I work the day shift. Ask me anything!

Here is some kind of proof without giving away any personal info that may get me in trouble-

My mop closet: http://imgur.com/wPd19nD

Shelf of my chemicals: http://imgur.com/xwkUOYU

My infamous ring of keys: http://imgur.com/9FHPTho

EDIT Thanks for the questions guys, now its time for me to have an Abba-Zaba, my only friend.

Q:

Two questions:

1) Do you have a chat with some of the kids while they're on their breaks?

2) Did you ever walk in/stumble on teachers doing things in secret?

A:

1) I always talk with the students. In the hall, in the classroom if I'm cleaning/fixing something. It's honestly my favorite part of the job. I could be having a bad day and then a mob of 10 year olds high five me all day and everything's cool!

2) I rarely see teachers outside of work since most of them don't live near me. I do see students quite often since I live close to the school. I think they see me more often than I see them


Q:

I thought e.g. teachers hooking up in a supply closet, that sort of stuff.

A:

Oops sorry, read that wrong! No, haven't seen that but have certainly heard things...


Q:

Well ...you gonna tell us?!?!

A:

I've heard a couple of stories of teachers hooking up outside of work.

The big one was when two married employees hooked up and their spouses caught them in the act apparently.


Q:

What're all those keys for?

A:

Well 4 of them are my personal keys (car, apartment, apartment security door, and mail key)

The rest is the main key which opens all the classrooms, a key for the mobile attached to the building, boiler room key, milk cooler key, tool chest key, supply locker key, towel dispenser key, soap dispenser key, electrical panel key, a different soap dispenser key for teachers bathrooms, toilet paper dispenser key, light switch key, and a crash bar Allen wrench key


Q:

What is the worst thing you've had to deal with?

A:

The worst was when I worked at the middle school and the girls would use their used tampons to write on the wall. "I love john". Fucking gross.

Another time there was a terrible smell that we couldn't pin point until we saw a vent with the cover missing... The girls had been stashing their used tampons up there


Q:

How did you get the job? Was it hard to get?

A:

I worked seasonally during breaks from college and then after I graduated (BA in mass communication and media arts) I needed to pay bills so I applied. They actually wouldn't hire me because I had a degree and assumed, rightfully so, that I'd leave as soon as I got a job with my major. It took applying for the 3rd time over the course of a year while I did an internship and some freelance stuff before I was hired.


Q:

It's so strange to me that people always say that women's restrooms are worse. I haven't had a job cleaning public restrooms but have used them my whole life and I've never found them that bad, while my husband often complains about the men's restrooms.

A:

Guys are a simple gross. Girls are a complex gross.

Example: Guy pisses on the floor. Girl uses a tampon to write on the wall...


Q:

Is your office in the boiler room?

When i was in elementary i was kicked out of class everyday and hung out with the custodian in the boiler room. We talked about banging the teachers all day.

Grade 6 was a good time.

A:

Haha no my office is right next to the boiler room. Gets fucking hot.


Q:

Do you prefer the night shift or the day shift? Why?

A:

If you asked me on my first month working the day shift I would have said nights. On nights your alone listening to your music and go into robot mode and power through. Not bad.

When I started days I didn't quite have my routine down and hardly knew anyone. So it was awkward and boring. Now, I know the whole staff, who's awesome for the most part, and I know all the students who really make my day since they seem really stoked to just say hi or chat with me a bit so then that makes my day much better!


Q:

What is that machine-looking contraption mounted to the wall in the mop closet?

A:

That dispenses our chemicals for the mop buckets and spray bottles.

It has 'stride' which is a low foam neutral cleaner. 'Virex' is our disinfectant/deodorizer. 'Glance' is for windows and glass. 'Alpha HP' is a multi surface cleaner.


Q:

What, no spitfire? I'm sorry your school hates you

A:

Oh we got spitfire. Love that stuff. Just don't have it in the dispenser. You can see the bottle in one of my pictures, white bottle with red lettering


Q:

What do you do in the summer months and over breaks? Is there still cleaning to be done when the kids aren't there?

A:

During the summer we wipe down and disinfect all of the furniture and walls, change light bulbs, clean windows, etc. then move all the furniture out of the rooms and scrub and wax the floors. Then we move all the furniture back into the rooms and repeat for the hallways


Q:

How long have you been doing this job? Any changes over that time or is it the same year-in year-out?

A:

I started working summer and winter breaks in 2007.

Got hired full time in 2012. Everything has been the same except now I'm on my 2nd year during the day shift so instead of being alone in the school and cleaning for 8 hours I'm surrounded by hundreds of kids and I'm always on call for you name it- vomit, deliveries, a microwave broke so I have to try and fix it, etc.

Much busier is the short answer


Q:

deliveries? you've had a pregnant student give birth?

A:

Thankfully no, I'm talking milk deliveries, ups, random PTO stuff, band equipment for concerts, etc.


Q:

High school custodian here; after my first year, and filling a gallon bucket with pens and pencils, I started just throwing them all away.

A:

Same here


Q:
  • What state or country? Does that place have any weird rules you have to adhere to that other places might not have to?
  • What are some of the things that make you happy about work? And in your personal life?
  • Are you paid fairly?
  • Besides pay, what are some of the things that really irritate you about your job?
  • What are some of the things people say or do when they hear about what you do?
  • Do the teachers or any other staff members treat you poorly because you are "just" custodian?
  • Do the people in management ever make you do non-cleaning work? If so, then what?
  • What are school politics like?
  • what sort of tools or equipment do you not have that would be great to have?
A:
  • USA, we have pretty much the same rules as everyone else I assume
  • Staff/students being friendly really make the difference in a good day or a bad day regardless if I have a ton of shit to clean up or not. If everyone's in a cool mood then so am I.
  • The pay is decent with benefits, so I can't really complain
  • The main irritation is people assuming things about my job or work. So for example, during the summer when we scrub floors we have to lay down a solution to eat away at the wax. We have to let it sit for at least 10 minutes, so when we do that sometimes teachers or other staff will see us talking waiting for the solution to work and say something like "how many custodians does it take to watch the floor dry?" Fuck you dude, we're not watching the floor dry. During the year I take my lunch break at 10 because thats just when its a good time for me to take a half hour and eat, so when someone comes into my office and I'm on my phone eating a burger they assume I'm being lazy and "hiding" in my office trying to avoid work. Fuck that shit too. Things like that where, like any job, you can criticize and talk shit about a custodian, waiter, teacher, or whatever but you never really know until you experience that for yourself. Not trying to make my job out to be anything complex or anything like that, I'm just saying people can be assholes with their assumptions.
  • Most people are cool with it actually. I know everyone has their connotations about custodians and all that but it's never been an issue for me. The main thing is that I went to college and not using my degree so thats the only thing that will get brought up consistently.
  • The staff is pretty cool and nice, but there are a few who will put a minimal effort into a greeting while passing in the hall or whatever until they need something and then its all smiles and being super polite and friendly. There aren't too many of those working there but they are there and can be irritating.
  • There's always things throughout each day that come up that are non-cleaning work. Sometimes it could be driving to the middle school to pick up a kids lunch that an older brother accidentally took or a microwave could be malfunctioning and I have to google a bunch of shit and try and fix it. Those are the things that I like to come up because when I have down time I'd much rather have some work to do because time goes by much faster
  • Not really too savvy in the school politics, I hear plenty of gossip though. All day. Everyday. I know which teachers hate each other. Which students suck or which students parents are assholes etc.
  • The middle school has an autoscrubber for their floors and that would be really fucking nice to have since these young kids destroy these floors.

Q:

If you don't mind me asking: do you get paid a pretty decent wage? My initial thinking would be yes since you are a full time worker for the school district. Also do you find that, for a lack of more sensitive phrasing, people are condescending towards you in anyway when you tell them what you do? I think it says something about our culture that kids at the school love you whereas being a janitor sometimes has a weird rep.

A:

Yeah it's a decent wage and the benefits are good. I make enough to pay for rent and everything I need. So no complaints there.

For the most part, everyone's nice to me. Sometimes overly nice even if they have the most simple task for me. There are some that are nicer than others of course. A more genuine nice who will shoot the shit with you and just talk to you like a regular person and that's always appreciated rather than pretending I don't exist until they need something. There are a couple of those too...


Q:

My 2nd grade daughter once puked in her classroom, and poor Octavio (their custodian) had to clean it up. I apologized profusely to him, and I will apologize to you for all the stuff that you have to clean up because young kids are young kids.

Do you feel angry or upset when you have to clean up something gross, even if it was an accident?

A:

Nope, it's my job and why I was hired. It's all good.


Q:

Have you seriously been doing the AMA for 8 hours now, or just forgot to log off?

A:

Been logged in on my phone all day


Q:

Besides cleaning the girls bathroom, what's your least favorite part of you job?

A:

There are times during the day when your just "on call" waiting for something to fix or clean. I hate that. I want something to do! But I also hate busy work, so I always hope there is something that goes on each day to keep me busy