Spring Break was great, right? Spring Break is the much-anticipated event usually occurring in mid-semester. I love the break. I try and take full advantage of my time off from the busy grind of the school regiment. Many will vacation, while others simply relax. Either way, the time off is definitely a privilege taken for granted by most, if not all, students. I can honestly say I took it for granted, that is, until this morning.
I arrived at school early this morning, roughly 8AM. As I parked, a member of the maintenance crew was in the parking lot emptying a trash receptacle. He warmly greeted me, and I returned the greeting. We traded “have a good day’s,” and I told him to enjoy the break. He looked at me and said, “Oh, we don’t get a break.” Unraveling this dialogue produces a couple misconceptions I held. First, I believed the entire school enjoyed the pleasures of Spring Break. Secondly, I, apparently, operated under the assumption the maintenance and grounds crews are only here to serve the student and faculty bodies, and without the presence of students and faculty, their presence is no longer warranted. I did not assume this maliciously but more so out of ignorance and obliviousness.
We continued the conversation for several minutes. He further explained the situation, and told me they would not enjoy any time off until the Fourth of July holiday (and students and faculty thought their Spring Break came too late). I understand the cost factors involved with paying the entirety of these workers for a week off of work. Furthermore, I understand, once I invested some thought in the matter, the implications of leaving the entire school unattended for a week. This train of thought led me to realize the immense responsibility and effort it takes to ensure the school operates properly. Also, I am sure the school views the week without students and faculty members as an opportunity to accomplish tasks not easily tackled with the masses of bodies trudging all over campus. I have always noticed the hard work these workers exude. Further, I make it my practice to treat all employees of the university with utmost respect. Perhaps this stems from my background. I am a 28 year old, nontraditional student. Before I enrolled in FMU, I worked a slue of jobs, such as restaurant cook, telemarketer, truck driver, and plumber. I know the value of a hard day’s work, and I understand the sacrifices people make to earn a living. I fear many students are not aware of such a reality.
Try and imagine the duties these crews undertake on a daily basis. The campus is composed of some 400 acres, 100 of which are wooded areas. This leaves the remaining 300 acres in need of care and maintenance. So many of these duties are taken for granted by students. Consider the lawn care, which is done nearly every day in the spring and summer. The mowers leave grass clippings spread across the lawn. So many students choose to actively disregard the numerous convenient sidewalks throughout campus and stomp across the freshly manicured lawn. As these students enter the buildings, they do so with grass all over their feet, which they soon strew about the hallways and classrooms. Additionally, by the end of each day, the restroom floor is littered with paper towels, due to the laziness of students. These same disrespectful students can be heard complaining about dirty floors and unkempt bathrooms. I find no logic in this behavior. Bottom line, we, as students and taxpayers, pay for this university, the same way we pay for our homes, cars, and clothes. However, I assert these students take much better care of the latter.
It is unfortunate how oblivious many people are. I am a senior and graduating in May. I am extremely proud to call FMU my alma mater. I take great pride in the beauty of our campus and the cleanliness of our facilities. In my three years at FMU, I can count the times a restroom has been without paper towels on one hand (all of which were at the end of the day), I cannot recall ever encountering a restroom without toilet paper, I cannot recall a day in which the campus facilities did not look spotless and the grounds not look manicured each morning. This did not happen because of magic. This came from hours and hours of hard work, with little or no recognition (and FYI, a paycheck is not recognition). So, when everyone returns from enjoying their nice, weeklong break, I encourage each and every person to take some time away from your cell phones, headphones, and oblivious lifestyles and thank these people who make your campus the clean and accommodating place it is. Be proud to be a Patriot!