Unsung Heroes

As I pulled my car into the parking lot on Tuesday, I drove slowly along the aisle, hoping to find a spot where the snow was cleared enough to park. After trying to pull into a few spaces and hearing my tires squeal, I finally settled on a spot that made my car lean to the right a bit.

I know this is a problem every student, faculty or staff member has encountered at one point on campus. There’s the frustration that comes with going out to your car and discovering a huge pile of snow behind it. Then there’s the large piles of snow on the ends of the parking lots you can never seem to be able to see around before pulling out into traffic. And what about the small slippery patches of slush and ice that our four-wheel drive cars always manage to slip on?

Winter hits Oswego hard. The sidewalks on campus pile up with snow that can never fully be cleared because the wind pushes the snow back. Who are the ones that scoop up the snow and salt our walkways, trying to minimize the many catastrophes that formulate in an ongoing snowstorm? The dedicated maintenance and custodial crew that work around the clock.

Earlier in the week, I found myself complaining about the state of the parking lot behind Hart Hall. Why wasn’t it plowed yet? What was taking so long?

But then I thought of all the nights I worked the 12-3 a.m. shift at the desk this semester and of the mini-sidewalk plow I could hear scraping sidewalks outside Hart. The tiny plows that are single-handedly manned by a member of Maintenance and Facilities who must be wary of the absent-minded students who walk in front of it.

I’ve seen the custodial staff in Hart Hall continuously salt and re-salt the slight hill leading up to the entrance of the building. These are the people that we see every day, most of the time barely acknowledging them with a smile or wave.

The building custodian in Hart is Dan and every day he scrubs the floors to get rid of the ice and slush that students track into the lobby. Students pass him by without a second glance and some that even ignore the rugs placed in front of the doors and track their footprints into the recently cleaned lobby.

The night before I left for winter break a huge snowstorm came through and I went out to the parking lot to find my car buried under a foot of snow. I stared at the two-foot high pile of snow with dismay and wondered how I was going to get out of the lot, when a maintenance crew member driving a plow stopped and asked if I needed help. He went out of his way to plow out the majority of snow from the front of my car and provided helpful driving tips for getting through the snow on my way home.

For those of us that have experienced a snowstorm downstate, we know how terribly they take care of snow. That part of the state basically shuts down and it can take days for roads to be fully plowed.

In Oswego, that doesn’t happen because of the hard work and dedication of the Maintenance and Custodial crew. They’re our campus’ unsung heroes. So the next time you think about complaining how terrible the snow removal is on campus, think twice. I know I will before speaking my complaints.