The Wise Janitor

by Dana Carrington
Minnesota, USA

The Wise Janitor

I grew up in a chaotic household. As an adult, my brother was diagnosed as manic-depressive, but as a child, I just thought he was a troublemaker. Between my parents getting divorced and my brother constantly creating one type of crisis or another, I felt alone and confused.

I made up stories of the kind of life I wanted to avoid telling people about my pain and confusion.

I found peace in a neighborhood church. However, by my senior year in high school, even church didn’t help. My mom attended a different church, and I felt very lonely watching families sit together during mass and youth events.

After high school graduation, many people I knew would be moving in separate directions, which only increased my stress and loneliness. Many friendships fell apart as people started preparing themselves to move on with their lives. The drama in my life seemed to be never-ending.

One of the kindest people during this time of my life was a custodian at my high school in Minnesota. His name was Bob, and he was easily old enough to be my grandfather. He’d been my bus driver when I was younger. Although I drove myself starting in my sophomore year, Bob and I kept up friendly conversations in the hallways at the school.

Bob was kind and took every opportunity to let me know that he cared, even waving at me while I sat in class if he passed by in the hall. Bob gave me a big hug on a few occasions when I really needed a hug, but mostly, he helped me smile when I felt there wasn’t a reason to smile. He always gave a kind word, a wave, or a smile, and seemed genuinely happy to just see me.

At the end of my senior year in 1988, I was looking for a summer job. Bob’s wife offered to put in a good word for me at her company. Although I found a different job that paid more, I was honored that of all the students Bob knew, he and his wife took the time to help me.

I wish I had kept in touch with Bob when I went off to college. Although it’s been almost 20 years, I still think of Bob fairly often. I hope that he and the family he loved so dearly had a wonderful life. He truly helped me relax even on the worst of days.

I wish Bob had been able to receive an award that showed that people truly realized that he was an incredibly insightful man who loved his job and cared about the students — especially those who needed a kind soul to care about them.

Originally published as HeroicStories #719 on July 20, 2007

2 thoughts on “The Wise Janitor”

  1. There are no many troubled youth today. It was so wonderful that she found Bob to help thru some extremely difficult times and that help came from Bob and his wife. My wish is that all of the kids that are living troubled lives find that one person that can help them thru the most difficult of times. Bob and his wife were angels in disguise and truly a blessing to all they came in contact with. There are many more angels out there and we know they will answer the call. Be assured that Bob and his wife know they were tremendous help to you and you have never been forgotten.

  2. Wherever Bob is now, he sounds like the kind of person who simply enjoyed people and enjoyed brightening their days, even if a student went on and moved away and he never heard from them again. And think about this: do you really think you had such a poker face that he didn’t see your eyes light up and your big smile when he greeted you? Naw – he knew he was special to you.


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