How much do you know about the person who cleans up after you?

In that period of time between homelessness and engineering, my brother Marc was a custodian. He emptied trash, washed floors and picked up after people just like me. Until his future boss got to know him. Got to know the guy emptying the trash in his company’s space. Got to know my brother, the man who held a degree in computer science and math, knew numerous programming languages, had taught himself theoretical physics, drew like an architect, and solved serious math problems just for fun. His boss, this guy John, is one of the most amazing people I know. He took the time to get to know my brother, and he insists that the young people working for him learn the names of the custodians and get to know them. Because…Marc.


How much do you know about the person who cleans up after you? 

Yesterday, I had the good fortune of being the only one at work. I had the good fortune to be there when our regular custodian was cleaning up our office space, and he was in a talkative mood. And I found out just how much we have in common, and how much we don’t. We’re about the same age. We both believe in the power of parenting. His kids are both college graduates working on their master’s degrees, and his grandson is in college on a full ride, and he worries that his youngest grandchild might not do as well. His nephew died of an overdose, and he spends every night – every night – taking care of his elderly father because he doesn’t want to leave his home of 62 years and he’s 92 and his children don’t want to make him move. And to make his father feel useful and comfortable and human, this man and his siblings make sure one of them is with their Dad around the clock. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. So that his Dad can stay in his home and be safe. 

And this is the man who empties my trash, washes the floor, and cleans the toilets where I work. And this is the man whose children are working on their masters’ degrees. And this is a man whose children may change the world. As surely as mine.


How much do you know about the person who cleans up after you?

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