Have you ever been walking to class, minding your own business, when a strange, beeping sound suddenly comes from behind you? You look over your shoulder and two students are staring back at you from inside a white box-shaped cart branded with the Temple “T.” Chances are you’re looking at Temple grounds crew student workers, and sometimes “The E-Cart.” I am one of these 12 students. We help to maintain the entire campus – from cleaning up trash, to planting flowers, to raking leaves and shoveling snow.
Before I started working on grounds crew this summer, that mysterious white cart squeaking around campus left me pretty confused, too. But after almost a year, the mysteries are solved for me. Whenever I’m working, and even when I’m not, people ask me a lot of questions about my job, questions which I also used to ask. That said, I offer you some frequently asked questions – grounds crew edition – to try to answer some of the most common ones.
“Do you have community service or something?”
No! I swear I didn’t get caught urinating in public! This is the most common question that my co-workers and I are asked. I’d like to put an end to this misconception right now. We are not being forced to jab at garbage with pointy sticks because we got caught for underage drinking. We get a hot $7 per hour for our work on grounds.
“YOU DRIVE THAT?!”
Ah, yes, The E-Cart – the battery-powered pride and joy of grounds crew. The E-Cart requires 1.21 gigawatts of electricity in order to function at its maximum capability – time travel! Well, really you just plug it in and it charges up like an over-sized iPod. (Despite popular belief, you do not start The E-Cart by pulling it back really fast and then letting it go.) The E-Cart is used to carry the heavy equipment needed around campus. It is often confused with the E-Dump which is only used for collecting and dumping garbage. A lot of people can’t hear it coming because it’s battery-powered; you can’t drive it on highways. Sorry, but you can’t have a ride. Lastly, the E-Cart can reach blazing speeds of about 10mph.
“Have you ever killed anyone with that stick?”
Killed? Certainly not! But every now and then, a squirrel gets caught in a vent and grounds crew’s gotta get ’em out. And sometimes they’re not fully dead. One time, a co-worker had to repeatedly stab a squirrel’s artery with a trash pick to put it out of its misery. True story. The worst thing I’ve found while trash-picking is a dead cat. The best thing I’ve found while trash-picking is a relatively unscratched Michael Jackson record. The place on campus that accumulates trash like a trash-magnet is the Anderson Vending Pad, and the most common pieces of trash are napkins. Thousands and thousands of napkins. Grrr.
“What’s that elephant-like machine that sucks up trash through its trunk?”
That is an “ATLV,” an All-Terrain Litter Vehicle. Unfortunately, the student workers don’t get to ride those bad boys; they are operated by the “union guys,” 12 full-time grounds workers in the Brotherhood of University Employees union. Without the daily hard work of these men, Temple’s campus would not be nearly as well-maintained and attractive as it is.
After reading these Frequently Asked Questions, I hope you have a better understanding of Temple’s grounds crew and the work that we do for your campus. And remember: We don’t have community service.
Beth Huxta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.