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my dad is a janitor

In addition to being a salesperson for one of the nation’s leading facility maintenance and cleaning companies, I’m a father. Like most parents, I tend to measure the passage of time by watching my children grow and experience life. Along the way, landmark moments stand out and draw your attention to her son’s growth and her age.

My oldest daughter just hit one of those benchmarks: she “graduated” from elementary school. As our family celebrated the occasion, we were nostalgic for her experiences and memorable moments of hers. One of our family’s favorites happened when my daughter was in second grade. The teacher asked each student to tell the class what her parents did at work. When it was my daughter’s turn, she proudly exclaimed, “My dad is a janitor.” She didn’t think much of it until she told us about it later at the table. After my wife kindly explained to me that I was not, in fact, a janitor, I explained that most of the janitors she knew were good, hard-working people. So being called a janitor is much more of a compliment than most people realize.

I still feel that way today. In fact, the janitors I know and work with are actually the most important people in my company. Day after day they quietly and consistently take care of the “dirty work” of our industry. While many have the privilege of working in sexy places like hotels and sports arenas, most work in ordinary offices, like yours and mine. Plus, while I’m home at night talking to my kids about what they did at school earlier that day, our custodians are hard at work preparing our customers’ facilities for the next work day.

And they are honest. We talk regularly about the janitor who found cash on a counter at one of our bank branches and called the police. And we’re talking about the janitor who found the wallet on the office floor and put it back on the desk. And the janitor who took the trash out of the dumpster and searched until he found the special wristwatch lost by one of the secretaries. The stories are endless and restore your faith in people.

So my wife and I laugh when we remember our daughter’s innocent mistake. And I tell him there’s nothing wrong with being called a janitor and, more importantly, nothing wrong with being a janitor.

In my experience, it is a compliment of the highest order.

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