29.11.09

Day 283. The Cleaning Ones.

Last night, my husband had the cool privilege to play with his hockey team on the main ice after the Columbus Blue Jackets game. We had about 30 minutes to mill about while we waited for the zamboni to finish its work, the arena to clear of CBJ fans, and our team to change into their gear. This also gave us PLENTY of time to walk a fair distance from our seats in the next to last row of the arena to front row seats at center ice.

What do you notice when you cover pretty much every row in a 20,000 person arena? You notice how sloppy we are when we aren't in our own space. Every possible thing that was sold at a concession stand last night was now on the floor in some form or another: nachos, peanuts (and their shells), soda, beer, ice cream, popcorn, chili, etc. Ewwww.

While we waited for our team to play the cleaning crew began their work. There's no way to automate this. There's no machine to sweep every seat, and cupholder, and part of the floor (all around the seats and in the aisles). Human labor is required to pick up every item and place it in the trash. I never got a proper count, but there were not that many men and women assigned to the task of cleaning every single one of the 20,000 spots for fans - the most I counted were 15 cleaning staff.

This team worked before our game, during our game, and were continuing their work after we were done (and they were not even half way through the arena). This is thankless work. This is important work. Its important for the brand of our hockey team, for health reasons, for longevity of the facility and attractiveness of our city for other events. But noone sees it, noone appreciates it, and in fact, most just add to it.

So, although I was able to only thank 3 or 4 of the cleaning staff personally last night, I want them all to know that their work is valuable and important and noticed, if only by the fact that noone complains about a dirty seat when they sit down in the arena the next time. I also took this lesson as a reminder that its my job to keep the areas that my life impacts as clean as possible. If you wouldn't throw down a half eaten container of popcorn in your house, don't do it at a public facility. If you don't leave peanut shells on your living room floor, or don't plan on cleaning it up yourself, don't make a mess elsewhere. It goes above personal responsibility. It goes to individual respect - the men and women who cleaned up after all of us last night are good, hard working, kind people and they don't need to pick up after me because I'm too lazy to do it.

I appreciate the work that this team did into the wee hours of the morning and I appreciate that they reminded me to not just expect others to take care of my stuff :)

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