The coronavirus pandemic has cast postal workers as heroes in the eyes of the American people, who have expressed appreciation for their service during the public health crisis.
These workers have heroes, too: the custodians who toil behind the scenes to keep Post Offices, processing plants and other facilities clean and safe.
“People don’t want to come to a dirty workplace,” said Karen Hebeler, a custodian at the Savanna, IL, Post Office. “They feel better about being here — and that makes me feel better.”
Hebler is one of about 13,700 custodians in the USPS workforce. In addition to their regular cleaning duties, many custodians help to educate co-workers on sanitary work practices, a job that has taken on added significance during the pandemic.
At the Huntington Beach, CA, Post Office, Custodian Sergio Rodriguez has delivered stand-up talks on working safely and cleanly.
“I want my co-workers to know that I am committed to safety and practice what I preach,” said Rodriguez, who also serves as a safety ambassador. “I walk the walk by wearing a mask, wearing gloves and demonstrating the safety guidelines.”
At the Brooklyn, NY, Processing and Distribution Center, another custodian, Davon Hope, sees himself as playing an important role in supporting his colleagues, who have been deemed essential workers during the pandemic.
“When you turn on the TV, it shows panic,” Hope said. “When you go outside, your fellow co-workers are getting the job done despite the current circumstance. It’s very encouraging. They bring normalcy to an otherwise abnormal situation.”
Sentiments like this have earned custodians accolades from management — Brooklyn Maintenance Operations Supervisor Sheila Kane said Hope is “instrumental in keeping the stations safe and sanitized in order to protect the employees” — but bosses aren’t the only ones who’ve taken notice.
Melissa Sandstrom, a custodian at the Plymouth, WI, Post Office, receives nice feedback from the public, too.
“A few customers joke that I should come and clean their house,” she said.
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