Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Smell of Oranges

A clean and fresh-smelling rest room is a wonderful thing. It's even better when you don't have to do the cleaning.

Each morning I'm greeted with a clean and sparkling restroom. The soap and towel dispensers are full, the urinal basin has that familiar blue cleaning agent. The floors are freshly mopped and all is well in the world.

It's a small respite from the usual day's work and I know in about 40 minutes the building will be open and the throngs will pound this restroom non-stop for thirteen hours. By noon that citrus-y smell will be gone. The toilets will not have been flushed. Paper towels wil be strewn across the floor and, horror of horrors, there will be suspicious "drips" nearby. Good thing the floor sports colored tile to hide any yellow hues that may be inherent in the "drips."

Cleaning toilets is crappy work (pun intended) and I have deep admiration for those who choose this life. That vida brings a whole new meaning to dans la merde. It's too easy for us to disregard these people as those who don't take pride in their work, but that would be acutely inaccurate. There is pride to their work and I see it every morning from the vacuumed floors, to the clean tabletops, to my morning restroom ritual (that does not include a seated session). However, this pride is framed in the one place where no one would ever see for themselves: the custodial closet.

In my building there are two closets. One for waste and the other a mop closet with sink. The waste closet is always in proper order but it's in the sink closet where one can see their pride. White cotton mops perfectly cleaned and hung to dry after a morning of endless cleaning demonstrate to me that these are true professionals who take pride in what they do and treat the tools of their trade with respect. That's something I can admire.

Regardless of the mountain of used paper towels that grows right next to the 33gallon trash can and regardless of the "drips" that have now coalesced into a small stream, the intrepid team of custodial engineers returns each morning to make my morning respite civilized once again, and to them I am eternally grateful.

So thank you to those of you who work so hard in the early morning hours in obscurity to make our lives a bit more civilized, no matter how uncivilized our society acts in your work area. My morning is better because of you. I hope you remain in your profession for many years to come.

Until then, the smell of oranges will always be a comforting scent.