25 Reasons Why I Dreamed of Being a High School Janitor

This janitor is really happy in his work

I remember Archie

If you think that this is a comedy offering, you are sadly mistaken. If you have followed by “Journey Through Hubville,” then you will automatically-realize that most of my works have hidden values, dreams, and unconfessed intent of the heart. It just requires a little work from the reader to find them.

I have, not all of the time, but some of my time on earth, dreamed of being a janitor. Not necessarily a highly-paid janitor, and not necessarily a janitor who works by the shift in some huge automotive manufacturing plant, but a lowly, obscure and mostly-overlooked school janitor.

Am I calling this job correctly in using “janitor?” I know that some years ago, garbage men wanted to be referred to as “Sanitation Engineers.” Okay. That fits well. I went along with their request. I mean who in their right mind wants to attend their 20-year high school reunion and answer the always-burning question: “What do you do, Mr. Kenneth?” “Uhhh, well. I am not a famous rock musician. I am in fact, a janitor.” You see back then, I had what you call dangerous youthful pride, the type of pride that will lead to destruction.

Neill Flynn, janitor on Scrubs

John Kapelos, "Carl," the janitor in "The Breakfast Club"

An obscure worker, but very important to the company

My dream of being a janitor surfaced in the 11th grade

Honestly, I do not boast of this fact, but I do not have “that” brand of pride anymore. I have a peaceful, subtle sense of taking time to look carefully at jobs such as janitors, train conductors, and produce salespersons—all noble jobs and all worthy of God’s blessings.

When I was in high school our janitor’s name was Archie Channel. He was a quite-spoken man who did his job and did it very well. All without any fanfare or special recognition in the homecoming parade. Archie simply came to work at 7 a.m. and left at 5 p.m. Hardly anyone, including myself at times, noticed him being on the school property.

I would watch Archie each opportunity I was afforded, mostly while in Literature class, because what Archie was doing make a heckuva lot more sense than me sitting in a cheap desk listening to a teacher speak in a mundane tone of voice about people I would never be asked to name before I could apply for a job. I mean it was a requirement to take Literature, but did it have to be so low-down boring and ridiculous?

To make my point, this was during the early era of journalism genius, the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, who covered and discovered the mockery of American politics in the late 60’s throughout the ‘70’s, and this time I speak of just happened to be set in 1971. Oh, the teacher, a Mrs. Idealla Young, who has dementia now and hardly knows her name, would catch me watching Archie, and would never scold me for my lack of interest in her teaching.

Cleaning what others have soiled

My lack of interest was not her fault.

It was all mine for I totally-enjoyed the grace and motion of Archie pushing his mop back and forth on the tile floor and then with one fluid-motion, he would prop the mop against his yellow mop bucket and grab a hallway garbage can and empty it completely in his bigger janitorial garbage can. Now there is a job for you. “And what do you do, Mr. Kenneth?” “Uhh, well, I am not a wealthy journalist, I make big janitorial garbage cans.” And even this vocation is a noble one.

I suppose I had my reasons for dreaming of being a janitor. I learned early-on in life that one must have a back-up plan just in-case their “Plan A,” “goes south.” That was my thinking. To fall-back on being a janitor if my career as a late-night rock and roll DJ fell through. But if I had confessed my dreams of janitorial work to a psychiatrist, he or she would probably written it off as some deluded sexual fantasy and charged my parents the going rate in 1971 of $75.00 per hour.

Find the janitor in this photo

More images of janitors and their work

Early Michael Richards in some acting scene
Early Michael Richards in some acting scene
There are also female janitors
There are also female janitors
Keeping the store spotless
Keeping the store spotless
Proud of his work
Proud of his work

But there were other reasons. All total . . .

“25 Reasons Why I Dreamed of Being a High School Janitor”

  • 25. I love the obscurity of being a janitor. Hardly any stress, and low risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • 24. There is nothing illegal or dishonorable about being a janitor.
  • 23. Janitors can work at a normal pace as opposed to meeting sales quotas and tough deadlines.
  • 22. Janitors make great confidants. I mean, we could tell Archie, our high school janitor anything.
  • 21. I would love the idea of wearing a colorful uniform with my name stitched in red over my left pocket.
  • 20. Janitors are very seldom accused of crime of any type.
  • 19. Janitors always get to see the basketball and volleyball games for free.
  • 18. If I wanted to take a fifteen-minute break, I could do it without being reprimanded.
  • 17. Doing janitorial work is great exercise for the mind and body.
  • 16. A janitor has to possess organizational skills as well as people skills.
  • 15. A janitor always gets his photo in the school yearbook without all of that cheesy wearing a tux and tie.
  • 14. Some women think that being a janitor is very hot as opposed to working in a slaughter house.
  • 13. “I” would be the subject of this hub if I had chosen to be a janitor. (See Einstein’s “Time and Event’ writings).
  • 12. I would not have to be able to speak a foreign language.
  • 11. I would not have to be able to type 60 words a minute.
  • 10. My lunches would always be free.
  • 9. I would always know what my duties would be the next day.
  • 8. If I were to see some illegal act by students, I could make them sweat by threatening to talk to the principal.
  • 7. I would be like the cool “Carl,” the janitor, on the John Huges classic, “The Breakfast Club.”
  • 6. I would never have to sweat-bullets over a mid-term or final tests.
  • 5. Worrying about showing my parents my report card would be the last thing on my mind.
  • 4. I would be considered a county or city employee, thus I would receive a retirement pension.
  • 3. I would always have the cute comeback, “I’m cleaning up,” to nosy people asking what I do for a living.
  • 2. The principal couldn’t paddle me or expel me for going against school policies.
  • 1. I would never have to worry about being late for class.

Coming in the near future . . .”My Other Dream of Being a Rural Farmhand”

Janitors work everywhere there are people

More by this Author


Comments 29 comments

DealForALiving profile image

DealForALiving 2 years ago from Earth

Thanks for the honest look at a dream in all it's humble glory. It was a refreshing read.


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 2 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

I like that at one time you have considered different jobs. They may not seem glorious, but they are still respectable. Most every job has an advantage.

When I think of school janitors, I think of this nice older man at Butterfield Elementary School in Orange, Ma. I don't recall his name, although it's at the tip of my tongue. But I do remember that he would take the time to say hi to students when they passed him, and everyone adored him! I also remember that we had conversations in the hallway, and that he noticed I loved to write. He actually gave me two books on writing (ones that were being retired from the school library), and that has touched me so much that it warms my heart to this day. I still have one of them: a thesaurus. It has come in handy over the years.

Thanks for sharing this with us, and have a great day!

~ Kathryn


sheilamyers 2 years ago

Hmmm ... now that you mention all the perks, I think I want to be a janitor. If I ever find myself out of work, I'll check the help needed ads for janitors.


carrie Lee Night profile image

carrie Lee Night 2 years ago from Northeast United States

Voted funny :). The reasons are logical and well thought through. No rocket Science, coworker drama, learning new computer software programs and having a pension are reasons enough to consider it as a career path. Thank you for sharing.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear carrie,

I learned something a while ago: Not all jobs are all that meets the eye. With some closer inspection, one may find a lot of plusses with a job that only "looks" dull and common place.

Thanks for your sweet comment and Happy Labor Day.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, sheilamyers,

Great idea. We both can partner-up and open our own janitorial services. We can secure about four accounts total. I do not really want to work that bad, just work in a peaceful place where I am not noticed.

Do I make sense?

I appreciate your comment.

Happy Labor Day.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hello, Kathryn,

Thank you for your interesting comment. With all things being relative, the one kind gesture from your janitor stayed with you and touched your heart so much that you mentioned him here. I like that. You are a classy girl and have my respect.

Please visit with me often.

Happy Labor Day.


Dana Tate profile image

Dana Tate 2 years ago from LOS ANGELES

Well you know what they say...do what you love...thanks for sharing Ken. Happy labor day.


Ann1Az2 profile image

Ann1Az2 2 years ago from Orange, Texas

I always make a point to say hi to janitors - they have a tough job cleaning up after the public - we're messy people! This was amusing, but I can see your inner thoughts, too. Janitor work is probably grossly underpaid. I have a friend who just retired from Lamar University as a janitor - they barely make ends meet. Janitors deserve our respect, as do others who work in similar fields. Think about the people who have to pump out septic systems! How in the world would you ever get use to the smell? Anyway, good job Kenneth and I did not miss your heart-felt sympathy for janitors,


sheilamyers 2 years ago

Kenneth: You make a lot of sense.


vkwok profile image

vkwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

This article is making me consider adding janitor to my options.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, vkwok,

Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it very much. Being a janitor is no shame. But a noble line of work.

Come back anytime to talk to me.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Sheila,

Thank you for the compliment, comment, which did make me speechless, which is a rare thing.

Actually, "thanks," is all I can offer you.

So do you.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Dana,

Thank you for the kind words and I agree with you on doing what you love. If American workers would do just that one thing . . .well, the possibilities are endless.

Talk to me anytime.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, Ann,

You are such a good person. Thanks first for saying hi to the janitors. I prefer to put them ahead of myself. And thanks to you for your uplifting comment.

I wish all of the world were like you and ALL of my followers.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 2 years ago from USA

Another one would be that the kids always loved the janitor, at least where I went to school. We all had a special respect for him and at least I remember him to this day.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Barbara Kay,

You are so right. We did for our janitor, Archie. He never met a stranger and would give you his last dollar, and if the truth be known, he did give his last dollar to many -a student who didn't have break or lunch money.

But I did recognize that he was a special man. Just by how he worked.

Thanks for your sweet reminder.


LeslieAdrienne profile image

LeslieAdrienne 2 years ago from Georgia

Love your reasons!.. And, what a nice sentimental journey to both the 11th grade Lit class (Mrs. Ball) and, through the hallways cleaned by out janitors.

I worked in City Hall in Atlanta for several years. There was a janitor there who was responsible for shining the brass and metal railings and fixtures. What was wonderful about this man was the fact that he would sing to himself as he shined. He had a beautiful baritone voice and it was delightful to hear him sing hymns and spirituals... it almost made you want to join in.

You find some of the best people in some of the most obscure places and positions.....


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, Leslie,

Thank you for your lively comment that gave me a big smile. God bless you for taking time to share this area about your city hall janitor. And you are absolutely right.

We do find the best and most-interesting people in the most obscure places.

Thanks for the reminder and come back soon.


CherylsArt profile image

CherylsArt 2 years ago from West Virginia

I enjoyed reading about your janitorial dreams. So, did you ever become one?


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

CherylsArt,

No, I did not. When I graduated from high school in 1972, I never had the cash to go to college. I had to help my dad with the household finances, so I went to work in a factory making mobile homes. Then from there to another factory to another factory finally to the newspaper in 1975 and worked for that paper until 1984 and went to work for our competing paper, and worked there until it went down in 1989. Worked as a security guard, then for a small printing company setting type. Then my friend, Les Walters, who was managing the first paper I started at in 1975, called me one day in 1990, and wanted to hired me back to be an ad designer.

I did this until 2000. I left for a job in the radio business selling ads. What a mistake.

I then started work at an ideal job: Working for our Mental Health Association--state pension, insurance, etc.

Then in February of 2003, I went home sick and next day had emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix and two weeks later, I began to swell and hurt all inside and out.

I went to doctors for one year in two states. Finally a talented doctor in Birmingham, Ala., diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia and Neurothopy. Both incurable diseases of the muscles, nerves and nerve endings.

So I took early retirement and take meds 365 and get painshots in my spine every three months in Tupelo, Miss.

So there is my full work life as it used to be.

I have wondered what would have happened if I had become a janitor? Thank you for stopping by.

I love your comments.


CherylsArt profile image

CherylsArt 2 years ago from West Virginia

Oh wow, you went through a lot. Perhaps you can take small steps though in doing something that you love. I wanted to be an artist when I was a kid, and I didn't give myself permission to pursue it until my late 30s. I had to do a lot of convincing for myself to get over some old beliefs.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

CherylsArt,

Ironic as it seems, I loved to draw when I was five until I was past my teens. I used pencils and pens. We couldn't afford much by way of art supplies.

And I wanted to be an FM radio late night DJ. I loved WLS in Chicago in 1968 through 1969 and my guidance counselor in high school told me at our Career Day that I was not suited to take out the garbage at one of these stations and so with my upbringing to respect authority, I left my dream along the roadside somewhere.

So I will give you permission to pursue what YOU love and enjoy.

What are friends and confidants for?


CherylsArt profile image

CherylsArt 2 years ago from West Virginia

It's amazing what "well meaning" or "overprotective" or "whatever" kind of people have said that influenced others thinking and pursuits. At sometime we just have to realize that they were only opinions, nothing more.

Thank you.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear CherylsArt,

You are right. This guy was not from our league of people. He was elite and very aloof. Why my high school hired him from Berkeley, Ca. I will never know, but my parents raised me to respect authority, so I did not want to cause trouble and be expelled.

I should have been like Dylan Thomas and "not gone gentle into that dark night."

You are a true friend, Cheryl. Thank YOU.


CherylsArt profile image

CherylsArt 2 years ago from West Virginia

I was raised the same way, we had to respect our elders. Live and learn.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear CherylsArt,

How sweet. Two people raised the same way. And yes, you are correct. We did and still do have to respect our elders.

You are a sweet friend.


CherylsArt profile image

CherylsArt 2 years ago from West Virginia

I had to chuckle over that one. Well at least respect can have different meanings.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

CherylsArt,

Thank you so much. And yes to your comment about respect. And another form of respect is respecting people who respect us.

Your Sincere Friend,

Kenneth

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