Saturday, August 18, 2012


Yesterday I decked the flattering blue and khaki for the last time. At 4:30pm, I clocked out of work and bid farewell to my summer job. It was a little bittersweet saying goodbye to the family of facility workers I have grown to love, but I am ready for a rest.

Knowing that this was my last week of work, I scrounged up as much overtime as I could handle. Part of the overtime I got to participate in was catering. I traded my blue and khaki for white and black while serving dinner to the faculty and staff of Covenant College. It was busy and a new experience. I realized how talented waitresses are in balancing many plates and other various dishes without dropping anything. I was not exactly a pro at this. I only dropped one butter knife. It barely missed cutting off a gentleman's toe, but he was very gracious in giving me back the knife and not making a big deal about it.

I also learned that waitresses are not in control of what is put on the plate they are serving. I found this out when a plate was slightly messed up and I was caught in the middle. The man was polite about it, but I was told by him that I needed to listen better. I felt awful, but there was nothing I could have done to avoid the situation.

After coming home from that eleven and a half hour day I was exhausted. I collapsed onto my bed and fell fast asleep. Waitressing is hard work.

Which brings me to the title of this post: appreciation.

This summer I worked on facility services. Put in everyday terms, I was a janitor. I cleaned toilets, emptied trash, scrubbed walls, washed carpet, and wiped handprint off of countless glass doors. (Just to name of few of my jobs). Some parts of the job were gross. Like going on a campus trash run and having "trashjuice" drip down my arms and all over my shirt. Or cleaning up a camper's vomit that had spread all over the floor. Yet, the gross aspects of the job were made fun by the people I worked with. The two times I did campus trash run, there were two hilarious people who not once complained about the disgusting trash, but instead laughed at the smell and the juice dripping on their face. When I cleaned up the vomit I was with a group of four. We poured on the "VoBan" and let it do its "magic" while we all stood in a circle around it in awe and much laughter.

I cannot complain. The job was nasty and hard at times, but the people I worked with made it all the better.

There was one thing, however, that made my day: when strangers came up to me and thanked me for my work.

We had one camper's dad walk through a hall one day while several of us were on the hall cleaning the bathrooms. He poked his head into the bathroom and told us how thankful he was. He said he had done a job like this once and no one ever thanked him. He said we had no idea how appreciative he was of us cleaning their bathroom for them and encouraged us in our work. I was blown away. A simple thirty second conversation and I felt encouraged to go clean for several more years! The simple act of noticing our work, and not only our work, but also the workers doing the work was beyond encouraging.

The same thing happened the one night I was a waitress. I had at least three kind professors and staff thank me for my work and talk to me about life instead of just treating me as a nobody. I couldn't have been more encouraged.

Working as a janitor and as a waitress I learned many things, but one thing I'd like to share now. It is so easy not to notice the person who cleans the bathroom or empties the trash. It is easy to talk to a waitress only to get food. But these are human beings just like us. The person who cleans the bathroom at the local gas station has a name, a history, and a person stopping to ask them about their day or even just to sincerely thank them for their hard labour, will probably make their day.

This is my challenge that I learned from the summer: thank the workers around you.

Thank the people who pick up trash. Thank the people who clean the bathrooms. Thank the people who dust mop. Thank the people who serve you food. Let them know that their job matters and that having a full roll of toilet paper in your stall or a soap dispenser that was full just made your day easier. Let them know they are appreciated and that they matter! Don't ignore them, please don't ignore them. It hurts. Ask them how they are and show your appreciation for all the hard work they do. Some days aren't easy and you never know how much a simple kind word will lift someone's spirit and empower them to clean all the better.

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