Lighting a Y
By Evelyn Steed Day (BA ’01), Marina, Calif.
To this day I have fond memories of scrubbing toilets in the Spencer W. Kimball Tower at 1 a.m. because my boss and crew knew how to squeeze in a bit of fun where you normally couldn’t find it.
Around midnight on my first shift, I found myself vacuuming the elevator landing when the elevator doors opened with almost the whole crew jammed inside. “Party on the seventh floor!” someone yelled, then the doors closed. “Are they kidding?” I thought. Then the loud music started. They weren’t kidding! The party lasted for about one minute, then everyone returned to work.
One night I received a piece of paper with a list of room numbers on it. I read, “At midnight, turn on the lights in these rooms only, then come down to the first floor.” I followed the instructions, and at midnight, we all went outside to see a gigantic Y lighting the side of the SWKT.
Hanging by a Cord
By M. Jordan Rowley (BS ’08), Ann Arbor, Mich.
On my first day as an early-morning custodian at the Bean Museum, I was introduced to the lead custodian and told to follow her around for the day. After showing me the closet and explaining various responsibilities, she informed me that the elevators were carpeted and needed vacuuming every morning.
Intent on making a good first impression, I grabbed a vacuum and headed upstairs to the elevator. Spotting an outlet outside the doors, I plugged in the cord and dragged the vacuum inside. I ran the vacuum for about 30 seconds before I heard a thwick and felt the elevator descend.
Spinning around, I saw the cord snaking out the door and rising toward the ceiling. As soon as the cord was taut, the vacuum itself began to tilt and panic filled my heart. Grasping the cord with both hands, I mounted the vacuum like it was some bucking bronco. Right then the elevator stopped, the doors opened, and there stood the person who had called the elevator—my supervisor. “Are you riding the vacuum?!” she asked.
They had to cut the cord and disentangle it from some gears, and I learned that there’s a key to turn off the elevator while vacuuming.
It wasn’t the best first day.
Sleeping at the Job
By Gregory D. Diven (BA ’71; MA, MOB ’77), St. George, Utah
Back in 1970 my fiancée, now Hillary Moore Diven (BA ’71, MA ’74), and I wanted to move up our graduation by attending summer semester and, as a result, get married sooner. But funds were tight, so we both applied for custodial jobs. I was assigned to clean the fourth floor of the Clark Library, while Hillary worked in the Smoot Administration Building. Every morning I would meet her at her apartment, and like zombies in the darkness, we would make our way across a deserted campus.
The semester was going well, but getting to bed late and rising extra early was taking its toll. One evening I was studying in the reading lounge on the main floor of the library and fell asleep. When I awoke, I found myself in the dark, stretched out on a couch where no one could see me. I looked at my watch. It was 3:30 a.m. I ran to the main door, but it was bolted shut. I then found a phone and called Hillary to tell her she would have to make her way to campus without me. There was nothing left to do but wait for Daryl, my supervisor, to show up.
I went back to the lounge, and promptly, at 3:45 a.m., Daryl unlocked the main door and headed for his office. I waited a couple of minutes and then followed him. As I punched in, Daryl looked up.
“Wow! You’re here early for once!”
“Just turning over a new leaf. I had a good night’s sleep.” I said.
By Terry K. Chandler (BS ’86), Weiser, Idaho
I worked as a custodian the entire time I was a student at BYU. Our crew would travel to various outlying buildings throughout the evening. One night as we were leaving our office in the Conference Center to travel to another building, we noticed some movement in the shrubbery north of the Marriott Center and circled through the parking lot to investigate. We found a group of young men dressed in black, their faces painted black, crawling through the bushes. When we questioned them about their activity, they failed to provide an adequate response, so we called University Police, who responded immediately and in force.
We later learned that University Police and the Provo Police Department had been conducting a training exercise in which each department’s objective was to covertly get to the headquarters of the other department. Provo’s finest had been foiled by the custodians.
The next day the BYU police officers brought us doughnuts for helping them win the competition.
Pay No Attention to the Face Behind the Curtain
By Aimee Eberhard Giles (BS ’93), Las Vegas
My first year at BYU I landed one of those coveted custodial jobs on campus, working the 4 to 8 a.m. shift at the David O. McKay Building. I cleaned the classrooms on one side of the third floor and another custodian cleaned the other half. At 4 in the morning, the building was dark, deserted, and a little creepy.
A few days into the job I noticed something odd in one of the rooms. The room had windows with curtains that were always closed. On this particular morning, I realized that those windows did not face the outside of the building. Wondering what lay behind these windows, I pulled back the curtains, and there looking right back at me was a human face! I let out a scream that, if recorded, could have been sold to the movie industry for use in a horror movie! The face looking at me screamed at the same time. Then the face’s expression changed to something between a sob and a laugh as I realized what was going on: this was an observation room, and I had just seen my own reflection in the mirrored glass!
Masters of the Toilet Wand
By Catelyn D. Gentry (’14), Provo
In the spring of 2012, my coworker Rob and I decided to set a record for cleaning the bathrooms in custodial area 840, which included the Grant and Maeser Buildings. Our goal was, in less than an hour, to scrub all 13 bathrooms spotless, a task that normally took two and a half hours.
Rob and I began our record-setting venture at a sprint. We did everything, but in quadruple-time fast-forward mode. As we tore through the buildings, I was sweating and Rob would glance every so often at his watch and say,
“I can’t believe we’re doing this.”
But when we opened the door to the second-to-last bathroom, we suddenly stopped—from pure shock.
Toilet paper was everywhere, hanging from the ceiling, wrapped around light fixtures, covering toilets, weaved in and out of stalls. I leapt into motion, tearing the TP masterpiece apart and ranting about what I’d do to the student who left such a mess.
Then I heard laughter from behind me and turned to see two coworkers recording my fit on a phone. Suddenly, I understood. The entire crew was in the next room busting a gut at our reaction. Our boss, Tim, was bent over from laughter, wailing like a yeti.
Miraculously, Rob and I still finished the bathrooms in under an hour (54 minutes, to be exact).