Work Experience: The Elementary School

I started to rethink my previous jobs and the post became a long ramble that was not very interesting. It also let me fall too deeply into bad mental health brain by dwelling on my past mistakes. So I’ll have to tackle that post another time. Both for interests sake as well as sorting out my thoughts in a healthy and constructive manner.

So some things I should point out. I will never be able to enter a public building now without assessing how clean the entry ways look. Glass windows, floors, and other public spaces catch my eye. Not because I’m anal retentive, but because of my years of experience as a janitor and maintenance worker. I was a janitor at the Elementary School for a year and a half and a maintenance worker at a University for two years.

There are some bittersweet memories from the Elementary School. I loved being able to work at the place my Bonus Daughter was attending school. I remember her Kindergarten year, the kids in her class would tattle whenever she held a boy’s hand. I thought this would be a job I’d be able to handle long term. I had a lot of crazy experiences while I worked there…

At one point, during the Summer work load, I think it was my second summer at the school … my coworkers had to go over to the other school to get new lockers for the 6thgrade classrooms. I was doing a washdown of the floor in the future music room. (We moved the art room to a normal classroom and were turning the art room into a music room.) I’d been using the buffer machine all summer long.

As a bit of backstory, this machine is strong enough that if you aren’t careful, you can bust a toilet with it. (A coworker warned me from experience.) It’s heavy duty, very powerful. Well, the genius that I was, decided to kick the cord away from myself. Instead of clearing my standing space … the cord was caught in the spinning brush of the machine, WRAPPED up rapidly, taking my leg along with the cord. I was thrown across the room and slammed into bare tile. I remember my glasses flying off, the taste of blood, and waking up on the floor in the inch of water and soap.

I barely was able to call out for help. No one was in the building. Until I heard foot steps. And thankfully a delivery driver was searching for someone to sign off on the paperwork. The poor guy nearly had a heart attack when he saw me and the blood. I’d bitten my bottom lip in the fall and blood was in the water. I had a bruise the size of a softball on my head. It took a week to recover and was my first experience with handling work related accidents. NOT FUN AT ALL.

I was really touched how the Head of the Maintenance handled the incident. I never had to worry about the hospital bill and I was never made to feel bad for what happened. It wasn’t my fault. And I never had to feel like it was either.

I really loved my time at the school, celebrating holidays and taking care of the classrooms. When you’ve got a kid in the system, it really makes you even more invested in the school and facilities. Teachers are underpaid. Teachers and the Staff at schools have the stupidest regulations set upon them by the State and Government. Like I said, I thought I was going to be at this position for longer…

Things eventually started to add up though. The level of trash I had to handle daily was daunting. And at some point I had more to clean in the bathrooms than was feasible. Toilet paper in the urinals. (Those are not made to flush solid materials.) Poop smeared on the walls. Poop… on the floors.

We had 20 classrooms that I needed to sweep, mop, dust, and vacuum in. 12 bathrooms that required multiple toilets to be cleaned; toilet paper, paper towels, and soap to be restocked; trash removed; floors swept and mopped. There was the gym, library, office, cafeteria, and halls that also required care as well. On top of that, lawncare fell under my purview. Since mowing was dangerous whenever there were cars present. Fun.

I’ve never been the type of person that can leave their work at work. I was always fretting about what I might have forgotten to do or didn’t do right. It became a point where I dreaded coming into work because I knew there would be a list of items I didn’t do good enough. Or forgot about.

I’m a list maker. And let me tell you. I was trying to keep notes on everything I did. I had all the teachers and staff’s names memorized. Their preferences at least noted. Some teachers would stay late and hated to have their classroom cleaned while they were working in it. Or they’d leave their dinner trash in the classroom which could stick up the classroom the next day if not removed.

Morning duties belonged to my coworker. If he ever needed to restock a bathroom, I would hear about it. Because that was obviously my duty. A sour taste kept catching in my throat because I was expected to be the cleaner janitor. Since I was a woman, they thought I’d be able to handle the smaller details. Like my many jobs before, I started questioning my worth and wondering if I was just a failure. My coworker would tell my Supervisor that I was clocking out early, when in fact, I often left later than required just to finish the bare minimum.

I remember the day I quit. I’d been crying constantly and suicidal ideations had me envisioning insane prospects of how to end everything. I sat in my car sobbing until I finally worked up the courage to go see the head of the department. I resigned and didn’t go in that day. It was awkward. I felt horrible because I was so easy to replace.

I used the fact my MiL had leukemia as an excuse for a long time. Helping out and supporting the household. It made events at my Step Daughter’s school more tolerable. And now … 3 years later, most of the staff don’t remember me. Or barely acknowledge me if they do. It’s for the best, I suppose.

It boggles my mind that this one single job took up so much of a post. I guess that’s all the more reason why I can’t compress my job history all into one session. I like to think that I’m a hard worker, but my own self doubt and hatred often taints that. Thanks for reading! Tomorrow’s post is most likely just going to be a lot of fun photographs of another horror from the Elementary School: School Lunches.

Published by Erin Seto

Southern Peach ๐Ÿ‘, in her 30โ€™s - Artist ๐ŸŽจ + Bibliophile ๐Ÿ“š + Geek ๐ŸŽฎ + Nerd ๐Ÿ‘“ + Animal-Lover ๐Ÿพ + Bipolar Disorder ๐Ÿ’ข x Anxiety ๐Ÿ˜จ x PTSD ๐Ÿ’ฃรท DBT Therapy โœจ + Mental Health Matters ๐Ÿง  = ME ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฝ

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