The Looking Glass

Open Letter to Montrosians: Making Connections — Key to Human Dignity

Hannah Marino '18, Co-Sports Editor

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Dear Montrosians,

“I think it would have been better if she had just died quickly, instead of what actually happened,” Melinda revealed. ‘What could be better than dying?’ I thought, concerned with what she was planning to reveal next. She continued, explaining that her mom went into a coma for 11 years due to too much anesthesia before a C-section to deliver Melinda’s 15th sibling. Her mom couldn’t interact with anyone because all she did was lie down, unable to speak or hear other people. Tears streamed down my face as I imagined a tragedy like that happening to any family. Through her struggles, she portrayed a tremendous strength in never losing hope. Her struggles indicate that she deserves respect. What does Melinda do for a living? Melinda is a custodian.

Melinda was featured in The Philosopher Kings, a movie I watched in my literature class this year about the backgrounds of custodians who work at colleges. The movie stressed that Melinda’s story, as well as other custodians’ stories, are just as important as the stories of doctors and lawyers. Through interviews with different custodians, The Philosopher Kings reinforced the idea that all people deserve to be recognized as individuals with respect and dignity, and each has wisdom others can discover.

Michael, a custodian at University of California- Berkeley, described the disrespect he received because he is a custodian. In his interview, he recounted how people “have a preconceived notion of who you are when they see you pushing a trash can or see you dragging a mop bucket.” By using the words “preconceived notions,” Michael indicated how people judge him without even getting to know him. He later explained: “Sometimes I’ll talk to people and they won’t even look at me.” People tend to not notice those doing behind the scenes work. To society, the custodian job appears to be the type of job one chooses because one does not have another choice. However, custodians deserve respect because they are people like you and me—people with backgrounds that make them who they are.

Jim, a custodian at Cornell University, described the prejudices that people have towards custodians in general. While in his interview, he advised viewers: “If you’re miserable every day, you’re doing something wrong.” He added: “I’m actually happy with what I’m doing right now.” People tend to think that custodians don’t like their jobs because all they do is clean, but what if this cleaning brings them happiness? Jim states that people must do what they love to do every day to be happy with their lives, and he is happy with his life. If someone is doing what they love to do, they should be respected for following their passion as well as for the way they serve others in a community.

Everyone deserves to be treated with the same amount of respect and dignity, no matter what they do for a living. If you ignore those around you, you don’t have time to get to know them and appreciate their uniqueness and inner beauty.

We have an incredible facilities staff at Montrose. Take time to show your gratitude, to recognize their service, and find out their stories. You’ll be surprised and enlightened!

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Open Letter to Montrosians: Making Connections — Key to Human Dignity