green

I often work odd hours and so have become familiar with the custodians everywhere I’ve been (more familiar, sad to say, than with many of my colleagues).  But I haven’t (yet!) been employed by enough schools that I would have any standing for sweeping generalisations.  Somewhere, right, there must be college custodians who don’t just put the recycling in with all the rest of the rubbish?  Even when you are not watching them?

(I’ve never complained to the custodians, their superiors, or anyone else about this.  I’ve a strict rule against doing anything to anger alienated labor when it has unrestricted access to my things.)

4 thoughts on “green”

  1. Yep. Somewhere is here, because we have a distributed recycling system (vs. the custodian-central trash collection). Every office has a little blue bin which, once full, is emptied by the office’s occupant to one of three or four big bins located on each floor. The custodian just has to maneuver the bins down to the loading dock once every couple of weeks.

    Of course, this just leads to distributed laziness; I see lots of white paper in lots of offices’ trashcans. But it seems to work okay, despite the large number of free riders. Then again, my department is closely affiliated with our agriculture program, so we’ve got a lot of hippie-earthy types around.

    I personally think the distributed system would work even better if we all had to do our own trash because, damn, is it really that hard to carry a trash bag down the hall? And once you’re doing that, the cost to take the recycling is a minimal addition. But… I’ve seen professors treat custodians and secretaries in ways that I never would have expected, so I guess we’re a lot less immune to the delusions of status than might be expected of people who study it.

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  2. “But… I’ve seen professors treat custodians and secretaries in ways that I never would have expected…”

    The colleagues who are my friends, I’m happy to say, are friendly with our custodians. But I’ve seen others treat them as invisible or, worse, with contempt. I enjoy talking with our custodians when I see them — and missed one pair in particular when their schedules apparently changed — but then again, I’m certain I’m the only person in my dept whose father was a custodian.

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  3. Interestingly, some of the people that do the custodial work on my campus are our neighbors and we go to each other’s kids’ birthday parties and barbecues.

    Don’t be surprised, many sociologists enter the discipline to pursue status (unfortunately they forget that many people laugh at the “discipline” of sociology). Don’t get me wrong, I love sociology (10 years of my life spent on it so far). Many sociologists are elitist dolts and in a few weeks you will see various status-insecure sociologists checking out name badges in hotel elevators in Boston.

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  4. Our department’s custodian seemed to be combining our general rubbish with the recycling rubbish as he did the afternoon rounds. We talk a lot (we’re both foreign-born and I live in his old neighbourhood …) so I felt quite comfortable asking him about the situation. It turns out that he is provided with two large trash cans on wheels but it really only works to push just one around the hallways and so he maintains separate sections within one can and then transfers the recycling into the other can when necessary. This seems to be typical on our campus … ya think folk would work out a more efficient solution but at least the recycling is still working. Now if only I could get the faculty who use the classroom next to my office to actually turn off the lights when class is over.

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