Behind the Scenes of Cleaning the School


Kai Blankenship and Melyna Carter

Q&A With Nicole Littrell, High School Custodian

Q: How and when did you get started with being a janitor?


A: “I got started in the kitchen. I got hired on Oct. 11, 2011, the day my nephew was born. I started this job in the kitchen and then my husband lost his job. And I said, ‘Well, I’m going to need to do something in the summer because the lunch ladies don’t work then. I’ve worked with the other custodian and I was like, ‘Wow, these people are really nice. I think I want to keep working with them.’ So I decided that would be a better route for me. I started working from 3pm to 11pm. And whenever they needed me, I came to the day shift. Then finally I got hired for full-time day shift. I’ve been full time since 2014 with custodial, but full time here on day shift for three years now, since 2020.”


Q: What is the grossest thing you’ve come upon?


A: “Honestly, the football locker rooms.”


Q: What was the funniest moment or most fun moment from being a janitor?


A: “That’s usually when [students] aren’t here and we just goof off. Just silly things, things that we would not normally do. It’s on our downtime when we are still doing something but we get to have a little fun. I like the unexpected, goofy moments.”


Q: What is the easiest and hardest part about being a janitor?


A: The hardest part is probably the different personalities. We have to consider that there are times especially in the summer, because we dismantle every room, wipe down every piece of furniture, scrub it, wax it and probably towards the end of summer, we’re all really getting tired. And we’re just we just want to be done. And we’ve been killing ourselves all summer. And we’re all grumpy. That is probably the hardest part dealing, you know, you don’t want to set somebody off but you’re tired and grumpy too. And it’s probably the, you know, dealing with other people in there.


Q: How long does it take to clean the school during the summer?


A: “It took right before you guys come back. We finished up this hallway down by admin just a day or two before the kids started coming for Freshman Orientation.”


Q: What is the best part of your job?


A: “The best part is getting appreciated. Like when somebody comes up to you like ‘We really appreciate you and your job’ or when they make a mess and say ‘We’re so sorry’ and they want to clean it up. I’m like ‘It’s okay, it’s okay. I have the supplies. It’s my job.” I think everybody wants to be appreciated and I think it’s really great to be appreciated. That probably my favorite part. When people see what we do and they’re like, ‘Wow this really looks good. We appreciate you.’”


Q: What’s the nicest thing a student has every done for you?


A: “I went into Mr. Rainwater’s, and I wanted something made because he just started glass etching and I wanted something cut out and this kid did ut fir ne for me. He went above and beyond. He made it perfect. It was great. He didn’t have to do that. He could have just done exactly what I asked for, but he went above and beyond.”

Q: Do you always work in the same section? 


A: “Yes, generally, unless we’re covering because somebody’s out for sickness or vacation. This is my section, by Mainstreet and I have to clean tech. Then when the weather’s nice, we clean the locker rooms for baseball in the spring and for football in the fall. And in the summer, even though we’re sitting here scrubbing and cleaning all these rooms we still have to go out there.”

Q: If you could have another job what would it be? 


A: “It would have to be working with kids in some way. Before this I was a crossing guard. And let me tell you, I still see those kids here, the ones that were there right when I left. Ten years ago I left and they were in kindergarten. I would probably go back to doing that because I can still see and interact with kids. Or I would work at a movie theater. I like movies and it was one of my first jobs and I liked that one.”