There are many Friday mornings where it takes me so much longer than it should to walk from the comfort of my bed to the bathroom. After laying in bed watching 10 second snippets of people's lives through Snapchat (aka look at the various ways finals are making people crazy) and debating whether or not I should actually make the trek down to the Danish Pastry House for a latte, I finally force myself to get up and start my day.
As I rub my eyes and try to comb out my bed head, I tend to run into a pair of ladies working hard to clean up the mess my suite mates and I have managed to make throughout the week. Each time this occurs, they begin to frantically pick up their supplies, telling me that they are almost done. I reassure them that I am in no rush and like always, they smile. As they gather their supplies, I take a whiff of the squeaky clean bathroom and shout two words as they leave: “Thank you!”
It is such a simple phrase. Thank you. Two words. 8 letters. Two syllables. So why we do we often forget them? Perhaps we are too focused on our own hectic lives. From our work load, to dance rehearsals, to sports games, and somehow managing to eat and sleep with all we have going on, us college students are pretty busy people. But, should that really be a reason for us to be unable to utter two simple words? Hopefully, we don’t actually think it’s okay to treat these people as if they were invisible, right?
I mean, after all, these people have lives. Perhaps they have families, children they come home to at night after a hard day of cleaning up the messes we create. And sometimes, we seem to make messes that could have easily been avoided (sorry janitors for that one time there was uncooked pasta all over our common room!).
Our janitors are by no means obligated to do all that they do. Sure, they get paid for their job, but if it really came down to it, they could drop their mops and quit.
These people have lives. They matter.
Perhaps it is the fact that it is now the Holiday Season and we all seem to remember that, oh yeah, we should be thankful for the people in our lives, as we share a pie, cut a turkey, or eat some stuffed veggies and tofurky (I’m looking at you vegetarians), that has inspired me to finally sit down and write this. I am constantly thinking about how simple it is to thank the people who do so much for us at this school, and how often we forget to.
After all, Tufts janitors work year round to make our lives even just the tiniest bit easier. I mean, imagine if on top of your Comp 11 project, US foreign relations research paper, and French composition you were struggling to hand in, you also had to make sure there was always enough toilet paper or hand soap (#canyousaystressful?)!
So yes, it is the holiday season, Christmas time, Hanukkah time, Kwanza time, the most wonderful time of the year. But, it is also time to stop treating our janitors as invisible.
In this spirit, I challenge you to take just a couple of seconds of your life to say two words: thank you. As you head out the door, at 12:17 pm for your 12:00pm recitation and you see a janitor wiping down a window, thank them.
When you are interrupted on your daily excursion to leave class and “go to the bathroom” by janitors making sure there is enough soap and water, thank them.
As you enter Carmichael dining hall, ask the men and women who swipe you in how they are doing, and genuinely mean it. As you leave after stuffing your face with cinnamon bread (because really, who knows when they’ll have it again- better eat it all while you can), give them a simple “thanks!”
Take 30 seconds of your day to thank the people who work hard to make our school clean and useable.
I can absolutely guarantee you this will be reciprocated by a giant smile on the face of anyone you thanked.
After all, who does not feel joy when their hard work is appreciated?
Happy holidays, friends.