As I was scrolling through the Daily Nebraskan website, I noticed there was an article published about the highest salaries, and, unfortunately, I knew which group of people would be on the lower end. It stated that Scott Frost and several other faculty members of the athletic department are the highest-paid Nebraska University employees. On the lower end of the scale are the individuals that work in custodial and dining services, with their salaries averaging around $27,000-$30,000 a year.
This really got me thinking. No profession on campus is more important than any other. All faculty members work together to ensure that our campus functions properly. Though, we as students interact with janitors and food staff employees more than we think we do, and their hard work often goes unappreciated. We need to begin to appreciate our janitors and food staff more than we do now.
Janitors and dining services staff are people. They have feelings, and they enjoy when their work is appreciated.
Some people say that it’s their job and they’re getting paid, so we shouldn’t go out of our way to be helpful to them. But I believe it’s better to make their job easier. Imagine walking into work and being told that there’s a filthy bathroom that you have to clean or food splattered all over the floor. It’s overwhelming, and you’ll be drained as you start your shift.
Think about how those individuals feel when people don’t clean up after themselves and leave wadded up paper towels on the bathroom counters. Imagine how individuals may feel when you are blatantly disrespectful to someone when you’re blaring your music through your AirPods and not communicating with them.
Not only are they annoyed, but it makes their job much more difficult to complete. And their job is to keep us safe with extra disinfecting and cleaning rooms to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The food staff had to learn how to implement a takeout system so fewer people would be seated in the dining halls. These staffers are respecting us and looking out for our health, so we need to do the same exact thing for them.
As someone who has worked in food service for almost four years and has experience as a janitor at a car dealership, I can vouch for how some of these individuals may feel. While working at my town’s local event center, there have been instances where people were so rude that I had one man deliberately growl at me.
There were several nights when I would end up working three to four hours cleaning up after people at the car dealership, which made me apathetic and unmotivated. I always found trash cans that were spilling over almost every day and inexcusably dirty toilets. I always told myself that some of the car dealers had the mentality that “There was someone to clean it for me, so I won’t clean it up.”
There are so many simple but effective steps that you can take to make janitors and food staff employees feel appreciated. Simply take a second out of your day to thank them and their work. If they have a nametag, or if you know their name, call them by their name, or even try to have a conversation with them.
It’s the simple things like this that can make someone’s day. I know that it always made me feel good when I would be complimented on my service during my shift and whenever my boss told me he appreciated the work I did around the dealership.
So please, I’m urging you to thank your janitors and food staff employees for their work. They do so much on campus, but their work is so underappreciated. You know how good it feels when someone says that you’re doing a great job, so share that gratitude with the custodial and food staff.
Adam Flowers is a freshman music education major. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org