Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cartagena the janitor

One of the janitors at school is named Cartagena. There's something weird going on with me and the janitors, because a couple of times, one has said to another, "Heheh, that's Cartagena's friend," with a meaningful, knowing glance, and then they both laugh. Cartagena himself does seem to act a little odd around me.

Odd or not, I'm pretty sure he's lazy, based on what his boss has said and how often he cleans my classroom, which is never. If I find the boss and ask, he'll send someone by. Usually it's only a problem after school events, when my room gets used as a dressing room (which is totally okay, it's just full of trash afterward). Last week when I summoned someone to sweep up, Cartagena stopped by at the end of the day. (This is the best translation I can give. The janitors have a working-class dialect that I have a really hard time understanding.)
"Hey, the room's nice and clean, yeah?"
"Yes! Thank you, it looks great."
"You know, this room is supposed to stay locked, but you have to leave it unlocked so I can clean it." [My room is usually locked.]
"Yeah, but even when I leave it unlocked, you don't clean it."
"Well, you got me there!"
At least we've all got a sense of humor about it, and we both had a good chuckle.

(Curiously, at bemused moments like that, I feel like my father: often he will find a matter-of-fact humor in the most obtuse bureaucratic delays or maddening organizational inefficiencies. We talked a lot about government and politics when I was growing up, and at least once, when I expressed incredulity at some lunatic expression of American democracy, he just chuckled and said, "Well, no one does it quite like we do.")


  1. I have to say that I'm lucky when it comes to janitors at my school, they're lovely. One of them even played a prank on me. She started speaking to me really quickly in front of some students, so I had to ask her to slow down so I could understand. When she did, even then I didn't understand and it sounded like she was speaking German or something. One of the laughing students then told me she was speaking gibberish.