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It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it

September 19, 2010
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There is an epic struggle raging in the professional cleaning industry.

Well, maybe not raging, but it’s certainly an ongoing daily struggle.

When I think about this classic JanSan struggle, it reminds me of Star Wars, the science-fiction fantasy movie saga created a long time ago (this year is the 30th anniversary) in a galaxy far, far away by writer/producer/ director George Lucas.

This epic trilogy began with the film Star Wars, later retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Star Wars gave us the villian Darth Vader representing the dark side of the Force clashing with Luke Skywalker, who led the forces of the light side of the Force.

And even if you never plucked down your hard-earned cash to see any of these movies that have become a pop culture phenomenon, by now you can figure out that I am referring to the classic battle of good vs. evil.

In Star Wars, the dark side of the force is filled with fear, hatred and evil, and the light side opposes that with all that is good, benevolent and healing.

As in virtually all movies, in the end the light side triumphs over the dark side, restoring the balance in the universe to its proper state. Good has to win, otherwise Hollywood wouldn’t have been able to market its vast array of Star Wars books, video games and action figures to the country’s impressionable youth.

How this relates to the professional cleaning industry is simple: Clean vs. dirty is the same as good vs. evil.

Think about it for a minute. Building serivce contractors and in-house facility directors and managers go to work every day faced with the task of defeating dirt. And they defeat dirt by sending their troops (custodians and cleaning technicians) out into the field armed with the proper procedures and equipment to clean.

While it isn’t on the scale of a galactic war with the future of the universe hanging in the balance, it is nonetheless a noble cause.

Deep down inside, we all look at dirt as bad, “evil,” if you will. Certainly it is unwanted.

Taken a step further, this unwanted matter is not only dirty but it may be dangerous and unhealthy, as it accumulates and mixes with moisture and bacteria.

Clean is exactly the opposite. It is the absence of unwanted material like dirt, germs and bacteria.

We view clean as “good.”

If we all accept the notion that clean is good and dirt is bad, then everyone should strive to live and work in surroundings that are clean.

That means we should all be cleaning on a regular basis, which most of us do in our own homes to self-imposed standards that we feel protect ourselves and our families and make our surroundings attractive and appealing.

It also means that we should all want and desire to have similar cleaning done to similar standards in places we frequent on a regular basis such as office buildings, schools, hospitals and restaurants.

You and I can’t clean those places before we frequent them. It isn’t practical.

Therefore, we rely on BSCs and in-house facility directors and their professional cleaning staffs to get the job done right for us.

Clean has to triumph over dirty in our eyes or our world won’t be in balance.

So, ask yourself this question: Why do many people consider a BSC or the head of a cleaning and maintenance department at a facility, as well as their respective custodians and cleaning technicians, to be almost second-class citizens?

Instead of looking down at the head of maintenance, or the man pushing a mop or the maid cleaning a hotel toilet, we should be embracing and applauding their hard work and effort.

If we didn’t have JanSan professionals cleaning up dirt and unwanted matter, the public would have to do it themselves, or worse, let such matter cause unhealthy public health conditions.

To be fair, the conflict between dirty and clean really comes down to the economics of the situation: How much are people willing to pay for someone to fight this vital battle?

That’s a topic for a future Cleanthoughts.

So let’s stand behind custodians and cleaning technicians as well as the people who direct them on a daily basis.

As in Stars Wars, may the Force be with them.



Send comments or thoughts on this topic or any other article that appears in CM/Cleaning & Maintenance Management® magazine, to jfazzone@ntpmedia.com.

Recent Articles by Jim Fazzone, senior editor

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