Campus after dark: Custodian finds solitude during shift

By Clayton Norlen

Larry Anderson pulled a razor blade from his pocket and scraped a piece of gum off the floor. You can tell a lot about people by the way they keep the buildings they occupy, said Anderson, a nighttime custodian for OSH.

For the past four months, Anderson has been on staff in OSH cleaning the floors, classrooms and bathrooms on the second floor of the building. Anderson works Monday through Thursday from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., cleaning up after a day of classes, but students’ habits are a type of job security for Anderson.

“Students are pigs,” Anderson said. “I pick up stuff every night.”

Anderson said he picks up all sorts of things students leave behind, such as hats, scarves and coats, but most surprising is the volume of pens the custodial staff has collected that he said “just won’t quit.”

Anderson said he moved to Utah about 10 years ago from Las Vegas to keep himself out of trouble after he was discharged from the military. He said now he is focused on reconstructing his life and getting out of the mode of being a youngster and living day to day.

“Ol’ man’s gotta have aspirations,” Anderson said. “A guy can’t do this for the rest of his life.”

Besides working in OSH, Anderson does computer repairs and is working toward getting into school and learning the technical side of the process. He has gained some experience with computers by visiting Deseret Industries and purchasing computers to practice repairs and soldering, but he would like to have a technical background to make a career out of his hobby, he said.

Once a week Anderson also volunteers at the homeless shelter downtown working for the grounds crew and in the kitchen. He got involved with the shelter through work force services when he arrived in Utah and still volunteers as a way to keep himself out of trouble, he said.

Whatever work he is doing, Anderson said it’s nice to be able to stand back and say he has made a difference, but cleanliness is not something people notice unless their work requires it. Even at home Anderson can’t separate work and pleasure and said he often catches himself taking out the trash in the common room of his apartment or cleaning up specks of garbage.

However, working the night shift has its benefits, Anderson said, because there are few distractions and solitude.

“It’s nice to be able to work and not have people breathing down your neck,” Anderson said. “You get time to think.”

Anderson said it’s obvious to him that students have left home and forgotten how to pick up after themselves without their mothers reminding them. Anderson said that a lot of people, including himself, have to be reminded to pick up after themselves.

“This job’s like anything else,” Anderson said. “You keep up on it, and it’s easy.”

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