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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Custodial Queens

 
 

Campus custodial workers can often be overlooked among the thousands of dorm dwellers, but A&M’s residence hall unsung heroes experience campus life right alongside students.
Valerie Duron has been a custodial worker for Legett Hall for five years. She said her arrival there was epic because she and her husband came the day that Bonfire collapsed.
“That was really sad because everybody was so gloomy,” Duron said. “I had wanted to see Bonfire because I had seen it a few times before.”
Other than the fact that the Aggies were really somber, Duron said they have always been really friendly – a lot friendlier than the people in California where she previously lived.
Duron said the students have even given her gifts at Christmas, her favorite of which was a Bible book marker from a few years ago that she still uses and treasures.
“There have been a lot of them that come to mind and make it worthwhile,” she said. “They are appreciative, and they always offer to help. Like when we have to carry these big boxes of toilet paper upstairs. But we always say, ‘No, because you’re not insured’.”
Duron said she gets tired of climbing stairs, but other than that she has no complaints. She said the custodians share stories with each other and laugh about them a lot.
“I had a girl once, and she told me to come on in, but she had her top off,” Duron said. “It didn’t bother me. I just did my work. But it was a little weird. (Coworker) Virginia walked in on a couple having sex once, and they just kept going at it!”
Virginia Nix is a custodian at FHK on Northside who has been cleaning around Texas A&M for 17 years and has worked her way up to the position of leader’s assistant.
“When [the leaders] are out doing something, then I’m in charge,” Nix said. “It’s normally when they have to be somewhere or have a class. I’m kind of over the group.”
Some of her duties include sweeping and “pulling trash” for Fowler, Hughes and Keathley daily. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Nix does bathrooms (she cleans about 40 a week) and cleans the kitchens.
Nix said one of her biggest pet peeves is when students leave a messy kitchen.
“The children are the ones responsible for doing their own dishes, but sometimes they don’t do them,” she said. “They will leave their dishes in the sink, and they leave the kitchen dirty, and then in two or three days I have to go let the hall director know. If they keep doing it then she’ll lock the kitchen down as part of their punishment.”
Nix, who is a mother of three and grandmother of nine, has been at A&M since 1982 and said that the kindness of the students is part of the appeal.
“Sometimes if they know that it’s hot outside they’ll offer me a bottle of water,” she said. “Some of them will do things like that and some of them won’t, but I don’t have a problem with any of them.”
Nix said she has befriended some of the students because they will come up and talk to her. Sometimes she will make conversation while she is cleaning, but every so often Nix has interesting experiences when she walks into a student’s room.
“Once I was going in to clean a young man’s bathroom,” she said. “So I knocked and said ‘custodian!’ and tried to walk in, but he had the chain on his door so I just thought ‘There’s somebody in there!’ There have just been things like that.”
Nix has three years to go before she will get what she calls a “grandfather” retirement, but she said she probably will not leave the area.
“I enjoy it,” she said. “I mean, I come to work and sometimes I have my bad days and sometimes I have good ones, but I keep going.”
Diann Taylor, another custodial worker in FHK, has been working since August. A single parent of four boys between the ages of five and thirteen, said the students here treat her fine.
Taylor said male residents are especially friendly because they always try to make conversation, sometimes even asking her questions about housecleaning.
“A boy asked me if I knew what kind of vacuum he should get because his room was kind of messy,” she said. “The girls are friendly, too, but it just seems like the boys speak a little bit more. That might be because I do mostly boys’ bathrooms, but they’re all great.”
Taylor said the only thing she really doesn’t like is the pigeon problem.
“I’m really scared of them,” Taylor said. “And I don’t know how they always manage to get in the custodians’ closets, but there always seem to be a few that just fly right at you when you open the door.”
Taylor said other than that, the people she works with are great, and she’s never worked with a group that gets along so well.
“It’s work, I guess,” she said. “You know, every day, up and down, and some days are better than others. But its work, and it’s just great to have a job.”

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