Part of my job as a camp ground host is cleaning the bathrooms, and sometimes people even thank me. (More)


Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

Every job I’ve ever had had a crappy part but in this case it is literal. Occasionally people thank me for the clean bathrooms. Yesterday it was kids doing the thanking, with not a parent in sight.

We are a primitive camp ground with vault toilets. That means they are outhouses with septic tanks and no running water. I have a five gallon bucket and a pump sprayer that I take to each outhouse along with a spray bottle, paper rags. and a brush. I carry the toilet paper replacement rolls on my broom stick. These outhouses are new concrete buildings courtesy of the 2009 stimulus program. They have windows and skylights and building and installing them created jobs. They’re classy and nothing like the small wooden ones they replaced.

Most mornings I walk around with my broom stick and decide if more cleaning is required. Yesterday I was coming out of an outhouse and a ten-year-old boy (this is his third year camping here) was walking down the road. He asked if I cleaned the bathrooms and I told him, “Yes I did and as far as his butt was concerned I was a very important person because without me there would be no toilet paper.”

He gave me a shy grin and a nod and said, “Thank you for doing this.” His mom was nowhere in sight so clearly this is one well-mannered kid.

When I went over to the group site a young girl was coming out of the outhouse. I told her I was the camp host and there to clean the bathroom. She started to yell to her older sister and I told her it was okay, I could wait. The younger girl (perhaps 9 years old) thanked me as did her older sister (maybe 13) when she came out. Again, not a parent in sight.

Cleaning the bathrooms is not my favorite part of my job and most of the time no one is around when I do it. The idea that three kids were present at cleaning time and that all three of them said thank you just made my day. I left a note for the mom of the boy on her trailer door. She’s a single mom, white and a teacher. Both of her sons are black. I wanted her to get an “atta mom” and know she had a very polite son. She came by with the note and tears in her eyes.

I talked with the girls parents when they stopped to buy firewood and they were shocked but thrilled. “Our girls?”they asked.

“You’re doing great as parents,” I said and I just wanted you to know.

Cleaning the outhouses is literally a crappy job, but someone’s got to do it. People noticing and saying thank you goes a long way to making it tolerable. Try it.

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