Getting to know your custodians

Beth+Causey%2C+43%2C+custodian+at+Kent+State%2C+operates+a+floor+scrubber+in+Rockwell+Hall+Wednesday%2C+Jan.+30.+Causey+has+worked+for+the+universitys+custodial+services+for+five+years.+Photo+by+Shane+Flanigan.

Beth Causey, 43, custodian at Kent State, operates a floor scrubber in Rockwell Hall Wednesday, Jan. 30. Causey has worked for the university’s custodial services for five years. Photo by Shane Flanigan.

Christina Suttles

As I walk through the first floor of Rockwell Hall, I approach Holly, an older member of the Kent State custodial staff, and ask her if she could direct me to the subject of my profile, Beth Causey.

“She’ll be right down,” Holly said. “She’s a little nervous, but she’s a really nice lady and such a hard worker. She does circles around me.”

Beth Causey, a soft-spoken, short-statured 43-year-old with dark hair and an olive complexion, has worked as a member of Kent State’s custodial services for five years. She’s considered one of the hardest working, most dependable employees in her department and spends most of her week in Rockwell with a handful of other housekeepers. She gingerly shakes my hand, and ascends to the second floor to mop the restroom floors.

“Don’t ask me any hard questions,” Causey says with a smile. “English isn’t my first language.”

Causey was born and raised in the Philippines where the official national language is Tagalog, but she’s semi-well-versed in English, which is the second official language.

“But we have like 200 dialects as well, or some silly number,” she said.

She moved to Kent with her husband, from whom she’s recently divorced, and her two daughters, aged 15 and 17, in 1997 to explore new opportunities. She was encouraged to apply for a custodial job at Kent State by her neighbor, a retired employee of University Facilities Management, which maintains buildings and grounds on campus.

Everyday for the last five years, she has woken up at or before 4:00 a.m. Monday through Friday to ready herself for an 8-hour shift. She has her morning coffee, then arrives at work at 5 a.m., clocks in and immediately gets to work.

“First, I go in the bathrooms and collect all the trash then go on the second floor and start sweeping all the classrooms to make sure they look presentable for morning classes,” Causey said.

She spends the remainder of the day cyclically mopping, vacuuming, sweeping, sanitizing, scrubbing and buffing the floors with high-powered machines until her shift ends at 1:30 p.m.

Causey really loves her job – so much so that she can’t even find an example of an exceptionally bad experience she’s had in the five years she’s been here. She makes a point of saying that most students and faculty have been nothing but helpful and friendly. Many even know her by name.

“They help us a lot,” she said. “Sometimes they take their trash and put it in my barrel while cleaning, instead of throwing in the just-cleaned bins. That’s helpful, and I say thank you.”

She sticks her head into the lounge on the second floor and has a brief chat with a student who asks her how she’s doing.

If other members of the staff need extra help, she sometimes cleans other buildings and says her messiest experience has been with the basketball court after events. She said though it’s hard work, she doesn’t mind doing it.

“I guess [the mess] is to be expected because it’s a game. People have fun, they eat,” she said. “The hardest part is during summer time when we do our clean up. We scrub everything, strip the floor and wax it. But I’m a hard worker. I just keep going.”

When she’s not at work, Causey spends her time taking care of her children and watching Filipino television that she specially orders on premium channels. She doesn’t have a lot of extra time, so hobbies and passions are not a priority.

She wouldn’t give any advice to students about making her job easier, because she feels it’s not necessarily her place to expect them to. She has an unshakable work ethic and understands it’s her job and not theirs, she said.

As we board the elevator with a massive, industrial-looking floor buffer, she looks down at the carpet and explains why the carpet that lines it is torn up and wrinkled.

“[It’s] because of how many times we take [the buffer] up and down,” she said.

At the end of the day, Causey is a hard-working, happy, humble member of the Kent State faculty and though her experience may not represent the experience all custodial members have had, she sees herself working for Kent State for many years to come.

“I like it here. It’s a good place to work.”

Contact Christina Suttles at [email protected].