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April 11, 2024

  • Poetics of April
    As we enter into the poetics of April, also known as national poetry month, here are four voices from well to lesser known. The Tradition – Jericho Brown Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Brown visited the last American Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP 2024) conference, and I loved his speech and humor. Besides […]
  • Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg
    Indie bookstore, Gathering Volumes, just hosted poet and (transgender) activist, Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg To celebrate Trans Day of Visibility, Minney read from her poetry book – A Woman in Progress (2024). Her reading depicted emotional and physical transformations especially in the scene of womanhood and queer experiences. Her language is empowering and personally […]
Spring Housing Guide

Rub a dub dub, scrubbing the gum off the tub

Teresa Mayo loves her job.

Despite the physically straining, dirty and sometimes monotonous work, Mayo has no complaints about it.

“I’m very proud of what I do,” Mayo said. “Some people say, ‘oh you’re just a custodian,’ but it’s an important thing.”

At 7:30 a.m., when most students are still nestled in their beds, Mayo is preparing to spend a full day scrubbing toilets and showers, sweeping, washing windows, mopping floors, cleaning up spills, disinfecting most everything she walks past and essentially cleaning up the messes left behind by residents in Kohl Hall.

It may not seem like a desirable job to many people.

The cleaning crew on the Eastern part of campus includes just nine custodians who take care of all the fraternity houses, Rodgers Hall, Kohl Hall and Founders to ensure that students are living in a healthy environment.

After meeting with the rest of the cleaning crew at 7:30 a.m. in the break room at Rodgers Hall, Mayo and four other custodians grab their cleaning supplies and head to Kohl to get the classrooms ready before 8 a.m.

By 8 a.m., the crew splits up and reports to their designated areas. Mayo heads to Kohl Hall where she is in charge of all the bathrooms on the third floor and half of them on the second floor.

This makes a total of 25 shower stalls that Mayo cleans each day.

Showers are the most time consuming and she said it’s the worst part of the day.

“But they’re the most important because of health issues,” she said, as she wipes between the cracks and crevices of a shower stall. “It’s important we kill the mold in case someone is allergic to it.”

Mayo said the most rewarding aspect of her job is interacting with the students all day.

“I want to have fun with the students ,” she said. “Sometimes they’ll inform me of a mess and I’ll tease and say, ‘Oh, did you leave me a surprise?'”

“I’m here every day, so I start to learn the personalities of the students,” she said.

An important and sometimes difficult part of the job is to get the work done in a timely fashion while working around the students’ schedules.

“I always wait for the girls to get ready and give them their privacy and space. That’s why I try to tackle the showers while they are asleep or in class,” Mayo said.

“Also, I try not to run the vacuum early in the morning when students are asleep. I know I would not want someone to run a vacuum when I’m trying to sleep.”

When the third floor bathrooms are finished, Mayo grabs the accumulated trash and puts it in an even larger trash bag, throws it over her shoulder and hauls it down to the dumpster.

Some people may not realize all the walking and lifting that is involved in the job.

“It can be [tiring] but we use flatbeds and take two trips when necessary,” she said, referring to the carts the students use on move-in day. “It’s a lot of walking, bending over and standing up.”

After a short break and some chit-chat with her coworkers, Mayo heads back to the second floor to start on the bathrooms when she comes across a note with her name on it. The note is from a resident advisor explaining the problem of a clogged drinking fountain, which is no surprise to Mayo.

Though cleaning food out of drinking fountains is not supposed to be part of the job, it is a common occurrence, and Mayo cleans it without a single complaint.

It’s also common to see Mayo with a plunger in hand.

“Some people are just destructive. I’ve seen toilet paper dispensers pulled off the walls,” she said.

This frustrates Mayo as it puts a hold on her other tasks.

“If I could tell students to do one thing that would make my job a little easier, it would be to have common courtesy and to be respectful.”

She’ll often find room trash in the recycling bins or trash strewn throughout the hallway, she said as she pulled a large pizza box out of a trash can in the laundry room.

Another common problem she comes across at work is boys blatantly not using the bathrooms correctly. Stopping to clean up intentional messes takes time and puts her behind in her work.

“I just want to ask, ‘Would you do this at home?'” Mayo said that dealing with gross messes is just a part of the job. She takes care of them and moves on with her work.

Despite these problems, she feels appreciated for the work she does.

Gunther Legg, a freshman resident in Kohl, appreciates all that Mayo does. “I think custodians are some of the most outstanding individuals,” Legg said. “She deals with some of the worst situations and she’s still smiling. I have so much respect for her.”

Mayo said Legg always takes time to apologize on behalf of his floor for any messes, which means a lot to her.

When the bathrooms are cleaned and sanitized and the trash is taken out, Mayo goes through the halls and picks up big pieces of trash before sweeping; she finds trash in more places than on the floor.

“We find cups shoved up on light fixtures or in other places,” she said. “We always have to keep our eyes open and look from top to bottom.”

The next step is to wipe down the walls, which are sometimes filled with all kinds of things, including gum.

“I always go home after work and tell my kids to always try and pick up after themselves when they’re in public,” Mayo said.

But custodians at the University don’t just clean the dorms.

Some extra parts of the job that many people are unaware of include shoveling sidewalks in the winter and helping to set up for campus events such as graduation and Campus Fest.

Each day in the summer, the crew is assigned four rooms to clean top to bottom; they wax floors and clean the walls, too. In addition, they de-loft all the beds, clean lights in the hallways and wash all curtains.

“It’s amazing how hands-on it is,” Mayo said.

Though the work can get downright dirty and very strenuous, Mayo and the rest of the custodial crew maintain a positive attitude.

“It’s part of the job and it’s what we’re trained to do,” said Ginny Brashear, team leader of the custodial crew.

Mayo said it’s the positive attitude and the teamwork that makes the job a little easier. “You put into this job what you want and that’s what you’ll get out of it,” she said. “That’s why I try to stay positive. There’s no sense in being negative. If I come down these halls all humdrum, students aren’t going to be happy and may not appreciate what I do for them.

“Well, they might, but it just doesn’t make the job fun.”

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