Custodian: (n) a person entrusted with maintaining a property; janitor.
No one is born a goddamn brat, but we are quick studies.
It’s because of what that position—brat—affords us:
- We can claim to be superior without having to offer evidence.
- We can hold our breath until we get what we want.
- We can become the most important person in the room by making other folks jump and beg.
Unfortunately, the buckets of puke that accompany “brat” make it a tad obnoxious.
I have been a brat.
I did more than play it on television. I took my experience with the role and incorporated it into my personal life.
When I was about to graduate from high school and my classmates wanted to dedicate the yearbook to our school custodian (it was that kind of era—championing the underdog and a search to lift up the obscure) I was against it.
I thought it was stupid.
I could not imagine giving an award to anyone who wore a matching shirt and pants.
The worst part of it was, they asked me to interview this custodian and write the blurb that would appear under his picture in our annual.
I was pissed off.
Worse than that, I was rude to this aging gentleman, who worked very hard to clean up all the snot from the noses of the brats who walked his hallways.
Another problem immediately came to the forefront: trying to get this servant to speak.
He didn’t want to talk about himself.
He didn’t want to elaborate on his past.
So finally, to meet the deadline, I wrote my impressions about him. For you see, over the half-hour encounter, they had changed.
Managing to get a few words from him about his daily activities, immediately I realized that I would be unwilling to do what he performed. But what struck me was his final statement, which I inserted into the prose of my piece.
I’ve never forgotten it, and it remains in my mind even today as a true pearl of wisdom. He said, “I think what I do is important, because it’s what I’ve been given to do.”
It was a brilliant axiom.
One that I wish our national leaders would take into consideration.
One which daily haunts my soul.