At Work — Donna Craver

Marissa Nichol

Donna Craver keeps Kent State’s University Library running — from electrical work to repairing machines and everything in between. When asked to describe herself in one sentence, Craver said, “A big pain in the ass.” (Laughs.)

Maintenance repair worker. It means I know a little bit about a lot of things, but not a whole lot about one thing. Unless it’s a car. I know a lot about those. I was the first female graduate of Maplewood vocational in Ravenna (in 1980). That was 11th and 12th grade ‘cause it was a high school program. I studied automotive mechanics.

You never know what you’re coming into every day. Yesterday, I spent four hours inside an air handler. I had it all shut down, and I totally cleaned the inside of it. I fixed one of the lights inside of it and those chilled water coils that I showed you where the air is cooled and dehumidified. Nobody thinks about it unless they’re uncomfortable — what takes place, what makes it happen.

I stay on things. I’m tenacious. If there’s a problem, I don’t drop the ball, and people that drop the ball piss. Me. Off. I take a lot of pride in a job well done. I’m a little bit of a perfectionist, and sometimes I have to dial that back a little bit and say, “This is good enough, leave it alone.”

There’s one person (in the library). I’m making 50 trips up and down the stairs or back and forth across a room. One of the things that I keep bringing up in our job as maintenance people is that we are understaffed, and a lot of times something that should be a two-person job, you’re trying to do it by yourself. And you have to be careful not to compromise your own safety.

I work Monday through Friday, 7 (a.m.) to 3:30 (p.m.), and I’m real happy with that schedule. Most days, I go pick up my kiddo right away from school. She’s in second grade, she’s 7 going on 17. She’s pretty smart. She has two older parents, and we never baby-talked her. We include her in almost all of our family discussions, so she’s always seemed like an old soul. When I show up to pick her up from school, especially when she was in kindergarten and first grade, I show up in my work uniform. All the kids come over and stare at me like, “Whatta you do?” and she says, “She fixes potties.” I’m like, “Hey, I do more than” — I do a lot of that, OK.

Eden. (Her daughter’s name.) It’s a nod to our Hebrew heritage on my wife’s side — Erin. She works at Tiffin University. That’s a private university that’s about two hours west of here on Route 224, but she’s an assistant dean and department chair and a professor. She is also a licensed counselor, and she still sees clients, too. I stole her from a friend. (Laughs.)

I have become so familiar with the sounds of the mechanical rooms. I can walk into the mechanical room and tell something’s up, just by hearing it. I can smell somethin’ and know I’ve got a leak somewhere, yeah. Yeah, I can tell what it is, like (sniffs twice) if I smell condensate, I must have a steam leak somewhere. And there’s the smell that you never wanna smell.” (Laughs.) Here’s the deal. In five years, I really don’t want to be climbing up and down ladders anymore. So I’d like to move into a supervisory position. I’d like to retire from this job. I enjoy it.

Marissa Nichol is a contributor. Contact her at [email protected].