When I was in the human resources office, while being hired, the woman told me that the most valuable employees in the whole organization were the maintenance/janitorial crew. She did not elaborbate. I intuitively understood what she said. I had seen the maintenance crews throughout Skid
Row constantly on the move. They are timely. They are organized. They are efficient and they are fearless. They put their hands in trash bags every day and have no idea what they will encounter. And that is exactly what the lady said to me. Expect anything at anytime because the bathrooms are the most abused public areas. Feces could be on the floor, the walls or in the trash cans. Urine could be in cans or bottles. Blood could be anywhere, hidden beneath things as well as needles that could infect you at the moment of impact and penetration.
And yet these men and women are are loyal and dutiful. And amazingly they spend a great deal of their day boosting the morale of tenants, exhibiting so much patience when each tenant is suffering moments of doubt. Imagine, exercising that kind of patience with people all day long while having problems and doubts of your own.
Chris E. Farley was one of the Skid Row maintenance crew. He worked down here temporarily but the lessons he taught will last a lifetime. He was on temporary assignment by one of the staffing organizations in the area.
In Skid Row, many of the tenants are upset with their lives and complain about anything. Many of them suffer from mental illness and yell and scream at you. Others can not control their bodily functions and whereever they are at the moment is where they relieve themselves. The maintenance men and women are the first and only line of resoution of these problems. They must clean up again and again. It does not matter if they just cleaned up the bathroom. If someone drops urine in a bottle or feces in a bag, they must return and handle that unexpected yet constant contingency. They control the spread of disease while risking themselves simultaneously.
Chris spent ten years in prison. He came out and is so optimistic about life. I heard him talk to his mother and daughter everyday. He could not be there for his other children because he was away. He guides his daughter and gives her encouragement to study. There is no doubt that she will succeed. He instills that cofidence in her.
He reinforces that attitude in me. After responding repeatedly to urine in bottles in the trash, and defecation in the trash cans, and listening patiently to the tenants about their concerns, He has the time to listen to me. I ask him over and over the same questions, the doubt and insecurity pinned on my shoulders.
His teachings began to have an effect on me as did the teachings of the other custodicans with whom I had the good fortune of being the recipient of their endless selflessness and wisdom. Sometimes I would ask Chris things because I wanted to marvel at his positive attgitude. In him, was the embodiment of all of the teachings that others bestowed upon me. If he can survive ten years of prison, then I have it easy. If he can believe, then I can believe. I have learned so much from those who had to learn how to have patience behind bars. What they have drilled into me has proven to be true. Things do change. Be patient. Endure. Perservere.
Keep your head up.
These are the things that the Janitorial Crew teach on Skid Row. They are, by far,I am sure, the most efficient maintenance staff in all of the different sections of downtown. More is required of them than any other maintenance staff and they respond trememendously. They are also outstanding "Professors of Life", giving lectures every day, without financial compensation.
They lead by example. The principles that they espouse are practriced every day.
They want only that you to live by the same principles so that you can be healthy, and also by doing so, lead others. I have found that listening to them, watching them, and having faith in what they say has led me to have a new positive attitude in life. It did not come overnight and the janitorial crew worked very hard to make sure I maintained faith. Chris worked harder than most because he had to listen to me nightly after doing his hard chores and answering to the needs of the tenants where I work.
Thanks Chris for your optimistic spirit and Skid Row thanks everyone who is on the Janitorial/Maintenace crew in the neighborhood. You do alot more than what people know about.