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What's Your Janitor's Name?

weather: slightly drizzling
outside: 10°C
mood: calm
This post is my very not-so-subtle-anymore congratulations to a friend on getting a new job and a half. =)

Urban legend has it that one of the midterm exam questions for some Business Ed. class, somewhere, was "What is the janitor's name?" The students were furious of course, but the question was supposed to underscore the importance of valuing support staff and the people who do their jobs so that you may do yours.

I heard that story long ago and took the message to heart. You don't need to know their life story, just know their names, maybe a little about them, wish them a happy holiday or weekend once in a while or just say hello.

Conversely, they don't need to know your life story either. But for all the times that you forget your keys/passes, lock yourself out, need to borrow duct tape, something blocking your path or you otherwise need a small favour, they may be there for you.

People just want to be treated like a human being and part of that means being recognized by name.

I want everyone to go and find out the name of the janitor/custodian at the place where you work, where you go to school or a building on campus you have classes in. If you're self-employed or don't have a janitor, then just pick a public employee that you see nearly regularly that you don't know — building security guard, bus driver, toll booth person, etc.

What is your janitor's name?

My custodian is Raoul, he's Russian. Every second evening, the floor under my desk is deliberately vacuumed. Some co-workers have noticed, and mentioned to me, that theirs don't always get done.

Raoul always vacuums my floor. I am apparently one of the few who know his name, which surprises me because it's a small company. I thank him every time he comes around to take the garbage from my receptacle. I say hello when I see him working in the hallway and I joked with him about mistakenly getting hand lotion instead of hand soap for the washrooms.

But here's the kicker: I GET UP and move my chair out of the way for him when he comes by with the vacuum cleaner. It's as simple as that.

Other folks: Andy (Building Manager), Dustin (Plant Maintenance)


[Update - 1236h]

All y'all would do SO WELL in Business School! Okay, maybe not, but I'm just proud to show off that I know the plural of "y'all" =D

Yes! Any maintenance or public service staff you see on a regular basis counts =)


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 20th, 2004 11:38 am (UTC)
Maybe the floor under your desk is just messier and you need more attention?
Apr. 20th, 2004 11:40 am (UTC)
*shrug* He doesn't bug people if they're sitting there looking like they're concentrating and ignoring him =)
Apr. 20th, 2004 11:58 am (UTC)
Your janitor comes around during working hours?? Ours don't show up until 7pm. If I've been here late enough to hear the vacuum and see the person the empties my trash can, I know I've been here too late.

And I'd learn their name if it wasn't a different person every time :/
Apr. 20th, 2004 12:04 pm (UTC)
He comes around at 5:30 or 6:00p and most of us are still here. We don't have set business hours, but the majority of us are here from [roughly] 9:30am-6:00p, some do their 7.5 hours/day earlier or later.

=) Collect them all =D
Apr. 20th, 2004 12:21 pm (UTC)
No seriously... it's a different crew each night. I think they take turns on the different floors/wings to make things interesting.

But the guy that cleans our bathrooms and takes the finger prints off the doors (who ever thought of solid glass doors was a moron) is here all day long. He's super sweet, always smiling and saying hello when I say hi to him. I've never heard him speak any English though, so I don't know how fluent he is. Talking to people that don't know English scares me!

But our security guards name is John. I learned that this morning :D Before your post even! Ha! ;)
Apr. 20th, 2004 12:37 pm (UTC)
But our security guards name is John. I learned that this morning :D Before your post even! Ha! ;)

HEY! Reading my mind ahead of time is CHEATING! =D =D
Apr. 21st, 2004 08:13 am (UTC)
ours come around mid afternoon or morning. they don't work after office hours, i think.
Apr. 20th, 2004 12:04 pm (UTC)
Ours shows up around 9:15 am, and asks me the time, and we chat a bit. He can't remember my name, and I his, but I do thank them for sweeping our floors as it's a hard task, ( well, for us with a wimpy broom) and they save us hours by doing so.

Apr. 20th, 2004 12:19 pm (UTC)
Well, we never see them either
I never see the cleaning staff either (they must come in after I leave) but the Building Services guy's name is Dan.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 20th, 2004 12:55 pm (UTC)
Loved this post!

My life right now is waaay too scattered to have one building or office where I see the custodial staff -- different classes in different buildings everyday, and the majority of my work gets done at home (where I'd LOVE to have a janitor). I do know the people at my favorite coffee shop!

I went to visit a friend who's an intern at a smallish community hospital in Salt Lake, and she did know *everyone's* name -- the janitors, the cafeteria ladies, everyone -- I always feel too shy to make small talk, but it was a good lesson to me. It really did lend the hospital a very warm feeling to see these connections between doctors and staff. Too often the teams of residents and attendings live in their own little world and ignore everyone else.
Apr. 20th, 2004 01:31 pm (UTC)
Great question!

I also believe in thanking support people, partly because I am one! :) But ya, I always try to know their names. And the other part to this is to USE them. It says a lot to know the person's name but I think it says even more to use their name when speaking with them.

Over and above that, I think you also have to do what you can to recognize them as well. Specifically I'm talking about when they do something above your expectations or consistently do exceptional work. One of the building engineers here, Kevin, has never complained the million and a half times I bug him about stuff so finally I sent the property management an email telling them what a great employee they have in Kevin. I realized it wasn't enough to tell *Kevin* he was great, it was more important to tell his *bosses* he's great. :)

Oh, and Chad, Jason, Masoud, and John are our couriers, Christina is our plant lady, Kelly, Laylie, Donna, Adrian, Derek, and Chuck are in the property management office, and Steve and Crystal are the two main security personnel I deal with.

That enough names for you. ;)
Apr. 20th, 2004 03:54 pm (UTC)
Forgot to also mention I'm this way about my servers at restaurants, too. Some people barely give them a second glance, rarely deigning to acknowledge their existance, but I thank them for everything they do. Doesn't matter to me if they're only filling up my water and "just doing their job". I still say thanks, 99% of the time looking them in the eye when I speak. :)
Apr. 20th, 2004 06:45 pm (UTC)
Your cat!!!!! Is so cute!!!!
Apr. 21st, 2004 06:59 am (UTC)
Thanks. :) That shot is about 10 years old now, taken when he was all of about 6 weeks old. He was an SPCA rescue cat and is *considerably* bigger now (about 14 pounds). :) But he's still adorable to me.
Apr. 20th, 2004 06:41 pm (UTC)
They also teach you that for an education degree. Well, they did to us. Know the janitors and secretaries. I take this to heart!
Apr. 20th, 2004 06:47 pm (UTC)
I think it's beneficial for every profession.

One version of the urban legend has it being a Nursing final. That makes sense. Sometimes, patients may for one reason or another be more candid in front of cleaning staff or the cleaning staff may see something the medical staff don't.
Apr. 20th, 2004 11:30 pm (UTC)
My janitor always locks the toilet, especially after she cleans it. She doesn't reopen it after it's dry, either. And she scolded me once for using the bathroom to wash my feet. That's why I dun bother to know her name :-\
Apr. 21st, 2004 07:32 am (UTC)
I'm just proud to show off that I know the plural of "y'all"

Oh help. I've been in this damn state too long. That didn't even pop out at me as something special until you pointed it out. *hangs head in shame*
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )


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