Confessions of a Loras trashman
Last semester I had an on campus job that stretched my patience, zapped my energy, and made me shake my fists at the heavens. Every Saturday and Sunday morning I would hoist myself out of bed at 4:30 a.m. to clean up after the messiest and most wasteful creatures in the known world — college students.
I would hike to the Information Center to pick up the keys for Beckman and Binz no matter how inclement the weather was. Snow, negative temperatures, you name it. I recall once wearing pajama pants under my jeans to keep my legs warm. I started on the girls’ floors, which always took the longest. This was part of the reason the job had to be done so early, so I hopefully would not run into any girls having to use the restroom. But occasionally I would, and it usually had a minimum of awkwardness. But one weekend in particular it seemed everyone and their mother had to use the bathroom before dawn. An inordinate number of boys used the bathrooms on girls’ floors — suspicious.
But this is barely worth mentioning, only minor inconveniences compared to the horrors I witnessed. For one, it seemed that the bags meant for sanitary napkins would collapse only at their goriest, but as this is a biological function, it is easily forgivable. The girl’s floors rarely gave me that much trouble, but the boy’s floors, especially in Beckman, were sometimes war zones. The walls on the second floor of Beckman were stripped bare, and exit signs were knocked out. It gave me the impression of a dystopian hellscape. Somehow, within the course of a Saturday, one trashcan could easily be overfilled enough for two or three garbage bags. The floor was sticky, more often than not. People have somehow gotten the idea that it is just fine and dandy to throw away open containers still filled with liquid.
I saw a sink stuffed with vegetables. I saw a stall door completely bent one weekend and subsequently removed. That same toilet was later stuffed with cheese balls and excrement at the same time. A paper towel dispenser was smashed. One morning, I came into the second floor bathroom of Beckman to find that the trash cans were missing. Gone. Somebody took them.
The most common type of trash I encountered might explain all of these other hijinks. You guessed it — empty alcohol containers. Look, I don’t really have an issue with college drinking, but if it makes you do things that make my job harder, we have a problem.
I don’t want you to walk away from reading this with the impression that it was all bad, though. The solitude gave me countless opportunities to be alone with my thoughts. I started composing haikus. I would write encouraging messages or draw funny pictures on friends’ dry erase boards. Once, in Binz A-level, on Halloween as I recall, I walked into the dregs of what might have been a wonderful night. Three sleepy friends at 6 a.m., giving each other a hard time.
This was not my favorite job, but I do not regret it. I would urge anyone reading this to please change your habits to make the custodial staff’s jobs easier. If you see them, thank them. Do your part. Break down boxes, pour out drinks, space out when you dispose of your garbage, and keep bodily fluids to a minimum, or at least in their proper places. How anybody can clean up after college students and retain any respect for them is beyond me. Remember, you are future leaders, politicians, lawyers, scientists, business people. Have fun, of course. But don’t look back on your college days and realize you were an asshole.