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Staffer shares cafeteria experience

Angelica Lopez, Staff Writer

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I was running through the hallways, no older than six or seven years. It was getting dark outside, but my mom wasn’t finished. No she wasn’t a teacher but something more valuable in the running of a school: a janitor. Yes my mom was the one who made sure that the school always stayed clean. She picked up after everyone else. I always thought of it like a mom for the school. I loved roaming the halls as she checked them and turned the lights off for the night. At that age, I never realized all the hard work she needed to get done. My mom isn’t the only person who worked as a janitor; my aunts did also.


I walk through the lunchroom, a regular day, food being thrown around, boys playing around, girls chatting away 100 mph; yes just a regular day. Nobody sees the lady going table-to-table wiping each one down, the lady with the broom picking up food that was dropped, or the lady mopping up spills. These ladies, our janitors, are a fundamental part of our school day.

I’m sitting at lunch, chatting with my friends when I see pieces of food flying across the room. I look around searching for the culprit, yet I see no one. I turn my attention back to my friends when in the corner of my eye I see another piece fly. I quickly spin around and catch a group of boys throwing food at each other. I shake my head sickened by their behavior. I ignore them until the piece of meat flies straight by my ear. I turn back around with an evil glare.

“Pick all that trash up,” I tell them calmly.

They look at me as if I am joking.

“Clean it up,” I say again a little more harshly.

“Why? I didn’t do it. Plus, it’s not my job,” a young boy has the decency to answer back.

I almost explode right then and there.

“A janitor is not your mother. She is not paid to clean up after your mess. If I were you, I would clean that up,” I say as evenly as I can manage.

“Ooooh,” the rest of his group started chanting.

He pretends that I never said a word and walks away with his group right behind him. They leave the table a mess of pizza crusts here, a spill over there and meat all over the floor.


I don’t like knowing that some of our students abuse the fact that we have janitors who do their job very well. We need to keep our school clean and tidy, because let’s face it, we spend more time there than our own houses. The faculty needs to enforce more cafeteria rules to try and put a stop to these shenanigans, but also the students have the duty to speak up as well. If you see students leaving trash behind or littering, tell administration. Keep our school clean; help the janitors and pick up after yourself!

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1 Comment

One Response to “Staffer shares cafeteria experience”

  1. Chappy on December 12th, 2012 4:13 pm

    Sweet Angelica,
    I am so glad you spoke up about the trashy way people regard our school. I know you love your mom, but loving your mom isn’t the only reason this lack of cleaning up after ones’ self bothers you, because it bothers me and we do not have the same mother. But we do share the same value and respect for property and our effect on it, particularly our campus, Decatur High School.
    Over the years many staff members and even some students have also fought this “clean up after your-own-self war” so we are not alone! Others fight along side us in this battlefield of ick, so do not lose heart.
    The reason a trashy school bothers you and I is, when we see people leaving or creating a mess, we think most people are capable of cleaning up after themselves so why would they want to make more mess for someone else to pick up and clean up? Why do that sort of thing on purpose?
    In addition, we, and possibly others feel it is not best for our school to be trashed and our custodians to be treated disrespectfully.
    When trash and messes are created for the purpose of “entertainment”, something is wrong. When it is too difficult to pick up your own trash and take it to the trash. something is wrong. When food is used as a toy, something is wrong. Color me crazy, but it seems something is wrong.
    For years I have felt only a “slight” bit of your pain, Angelica, thank you for speaking up for your mother and our school.
    Your Aunt and Mother are my dear – DEAR friends, in many ways they seem more like family to me than friends or co- workers so it is hard for me to not take it personally when I see people throw food or leave it for someone “else “ to pick up.
    I know that it is easy to discriminate and hate if you do not know the person, if you can group them, and simply know “about” them. Most people do not know your mom or your aunt; most people only know our school has custodians and people tend to group them as the custodians.
    I think IF whomever left their trash, made messes, and entertained themselves by playing with food knew our custodians, were in fact your mom, your aunt, my friends., it would be must MUCH harder to leave trash on purpose then next time. Maybe the custodians aren’t seen as real people, or maybe valuable? Many students believe that the custodians are “maids”. I see people walk by the custodians and never speak, say things as IF the custodians can not hear, ignore the custodians as if they are part of the landscape, seldom include them because after it’s just the custodians,….. Anyway these are only observations of mine. And do not serve to point toward a solution.
    Angelica, I have come to understand it is easier to disrespect /hate if you never get to know the person and only see them as a group.
    I am so glad I have gotten to know your mom, your aunt and others. I thank them often for the hard work they do here at Decatur School by keeping our school clean. Maybe after reading your thoughts someone else will take time to pickup their trash, or food or maybe? Just maybe???? …, get to know your mom , your aunt, my friends and stop seeing them as more than the custodians.
    Just my opinion Sweet Angelica,


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Staffer shares cafeteria experience