Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Custodial Kindness

A couple of months ago I almost killed a woman by stepping into and out of the wrong shower at HPAC.  Never again.  Firstly I learned my lesson, but secondly I haven't seen her recently.  I hope she didn't have a recurrence of the shock of facing me as I was coming out of the men's unused shower room right as she was opening the door to clean it.  The custodians seem to clean the showers around the time I wish to use them, roughly 8:40am and I had thought I could save some time by following the suggestion of the one of the HPAC staff to use the men's shower since it's never used, while the ladies' was being cleaned.  I stepped in but decided against it.  Again, never again.

But this morning I encountered another custodian on her way to cleaning the showers.  I followed behind her as she pushed her cart over to that corner of HPAC, somewhat apprehensive about the situation that might ensue.  I wanted to take a quick shower before eating breakfast, practicing and rehearsal, and was hoping not to have to wait and not to have to endanger another very nice seeming woman.  But as we approached the showers and she saw me and the towel and soap I was carrying she became very excited.  "Ahh!  Dozo!  Dozo!"  She seemed to want to say more but realizing I wouldn't understand muttered a string of offerings "Please! Please!"  She sort of guided me to the door to help me in, "Wakarimasuka?"  Do you understand?

Yes, thank you, thank you.  I do understand how to use the shower.  Despite my post-workout, post-bike ride smell, I am actually a seasoned showerer.   Thank you very much.

I really appreciate the meticulous work of the custodians and their invitation that I create more of it for them is a little overwhelming.  I will remember it when I return to the states where for whatever reason, quite often the custodial staff is not so eager to have more work, and quite often there is a tension in the roles of the one serving and the one being served.  But their kindness inspires a reciprocation of service on my part, even if it is just to be more polite or more clean.  And I can do it out of kindness rather than fear of contrition.

Thank you to the custodians at HPAC, not just for being so good at your jobs, but also for encouraging this kind of kindness in the way you serve.  There is still the American in me which sees the softening of these class boundaries as responsible for their continuation, but I am not in America and have no influence in this sphere.  And so I appreciate the kindness, from whatever situation it comes.

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