Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Custodian

Here is my latest work, a piece of prose for your reading pleasure. Good night, everyone.

The Custodian

I started right after graduation. It was a steady job with good pay and a pension. I looked up the word “custodian” in a dictionary in the school library one night. It means, “the keeper of something valuable”. I liked the sound of that. Made it seem important. The first couple of years I knew everyone, and most of them were decent to me. A couple of them were bastards and would say mean things and would kick my broom when they passed me in the hallways. Every year there are a few bad eggs. The next couple of years it was the younger brothers and sisters of the kids I had gone to school with. Later, a lot of the boys were being sent into the war when they graduated. Not me. Somehow my number never came up. A bunch of those boys didn’t come back alive. Fashions, music and attitudes the kids liked was becoming wild and rebellious, not like when I was a student. Still, they didn’t bother me much. The 70s came and went. We got out of Viet Nam and into the cold war. They started having air raid drills in the school. I thought they were a waste of time. If the Russians hit us with a nuke, we would all be toast no matter what anyway. By then the kids were all strangers to me. The hippies kind of faded away. Then the 80s came. Weird clothes, pointy hair, God-awful music. A lot of the kids were just plain weird. The Ronald Regan era came in. A lot of the kids were the children of my friends and old classmates. By then I was a fixture here. Every kid knew my name, even if I didn’t know theirs. Like in the past, some were mean to me, but most were friendly. They stopped calling me the custodian. It was “janitor” now. The 90s rolled around, and things sort of got better. The economy was good. The kids were wearing flannel shirts and work boots, real guy clothes. I could do without the backwards baseball hats, though. The music was still God-awful, but not as bad as it had been.

Things have changed so much over the years. These kids today, I don’t know any of them, but they have no respect for anyone, especially the teachers. And no sense of responsibility. I doubt they even respect themselves. I think they get it from the parents. I mostly just want them to pull their baggy pants up and tuck in their shirts. I think back over time, and it seems it got worse as time went on. Well, I’m only a year away from retiring and taking on that township pension. I think about moving to Myrtle Beach or Ft. Lauderdale. I try to take it easy. I can’t quite get around like I used to. Sciatica, you know. I like it best when everyone has gone home and I’m alone here. I like to hear the swish of my broom echo in the hallways. I like the stillness in the empty class rooms as I roam with my pail and washing cloth in hand. I don’t feel like the janitor then. Or the custodian. I feel like
the king.

4 comments:

  1. Ooh I really, really like this! It makes me feel sad for him, though.

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  2. I liked this, too. I could see the poor "janitor" being ridiculed by the punks. Sadly, this still happens today. Great story. Hugs.

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  3. Thank you, ladies. I appreciate the kind comments.

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