Unheralded custodians keep it clean

Along with the usual flow and noise of students and faculty, the wheezing of a vacuum can be heard each evening in Murray State’s hallways as men and women in a light blue shirts work the hours away.

When most classes have finished, custodians roll in their cleaning carts and attack the messes of the day. They don’t often get praise. They don’t interact much with the students they serve. But they do realize how important their jobs are.

“If it’s not clean, you’re gonna have a bunch of sick people,” said Frank Scott, a Murray State custodian. “It’d be a mess without people doing our jobs.”

Scott came to Murray State to work 30 years ago because it was one of the only jobs at the time that offered a steady wage. Before working at Murray State, Scott delivered newspapers.

These men and women in their light blue shirts are part of the tradition of Murray State, and some of these custodians have worked on campus longer than many of the faculty.

Scott said he stayed because of his love for the people and love for his work as a custodian.

“It is steady work and I like it.” Scott said. “You have to like what you do. You have to absolutely enjoy your job.”

With one daughter and one son, Scott had to pull things together when he got the job in 1985.

The custodian position at Murray State also attracted Scott because of the benefits that he would receive which included life, health, dental and vision insurance.

Michael Whitlow, a Michigan native who has worked as a custodian for nine years, said his cousin kept encouraging him to take the position at Murray State, and he eventually settled into a house in Mayfield and took the job.

“At first, the amount of students was overwhelming because they were everywhere,” Whitlow said. “But soon everything got normal and I was comfortable.”

Now, Whitlow doesn’t see as many students because of the night shift that he works in Faculty Hall, Wilson Hall and the Nash House.

His favorite building to clean is the Nash House because it is small and only takes 15-20 minutes, while he said the vacuuming in Faculty Hall takes a toll on his body. The vacuum is worn as a backpack, and Whitlow pokes fun at how it looks.

“I’m not a Ghostbuster,” Whitow said. “I’m a dust buster!”

Scott and Whitlow both speak highly of their jobs and said their work is an important part of the University even if it doesn’t come with many accolades.

Some people will come up to the custodians and give a word of thanks, Whitlow said. He said that’s encouraging and helpful.

“When one person comes up to you and expresses their appreciation for what we do, it really means a lot and helps to make the back-breaking days worth it,” Whitlow said.

 

Story by Julia Mazzuca, Staff writer