Right now I’m sitting in Newton 213 frantically attempting to finish these blog posts that I so irresponsibly left to the last minute (classic, I beg forgiveness) as maintenance workers mop the floor around me and reorganize the chaotic mess the desks have become from the day of classes back into nice, neat rows, meticulously spraying and wiping each one, save mine. I can’t help but be brought back to our classes trip to the campus heating plant and the ensuing discussion on things we rarely think about or take for granted.
Often I forget it takes a whole team of probably hundreds of humans to maintain this campus. While we sip our Starbucks or coalesce in common rooms or attempt our assignments, they work at all hours to maintain and sustain us. Without them life at SUNY Geneseo would be unsustainable, and yet rarely does their service enter my mind. Everyday at the beginning of class we rearrange our desks into a jumbled ellipse, and miraculously next class period they’re back into rows without us so much as lifting a finger.
We mess up the desks, they put them back. We fill the waste and recycling bins, they empty them. We tread dirt on the floors, they wash them. We leave scrawls and scribbles on the whiteboards, they erase them. We even leave the lights on (what horrible house guests we are) and they turn them off. They heat our buildings, make our food, clean our bathrooms, and I as well as the majority of the student populace probably never thank them nor even give them a second glance.
At the time of our trip to the heating plant, I was largely confused how the trip fit into our class. Now, one of our course epigraphs; “my job is to notice… and to notice that you can notice” is immediately evoked for me. The trip to the heating plant opened up my mind to the idea that for me to live my life comfortably, there are people behind the scenes who I may never know and yet contribute to my standard of living. I would have never noticed this, nor noticed that now I do pay attention and appreciate more the necessary comforts provided to me by the crew of individuals we know best as the collective CAS.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is get to know your janitors, your maintenance workers, your garbage person, your bus driver. Notice all the people who make sure you’re taken care of before themselves. Know their names, say “hi” when you see them. Say thank you. And get them a gift on Christmas.
Appreciate the under-appreciated.