In The Legend of Bagger Vance: A Novel of Golf and the Game of Life author Steven Pressfield creates an emotional scenario where young Hardy Greaves is embarrassed to be seen speaking with his father, a janitor. The setting was the Great Depression, and Hardy’s pop had taken the only job he could find in an effort to put food on the table and care for his family.  Sweeping the streets and taking out the trash of his friends and neighbors was beneath his father—and him—Hardy thought.

“Your daddy is out sweeping streets because he took every last dime he had, and used it to pay up every man and woman he owed and every business who worked for him, instead of declaring bankruptcy like everyone else in town… Your daddy stared adversity in the eye, Hardy. And he beat it back with a broom,” Hardy’s hero, golfer Rannulf Junuh declared.

The scene is heavy with emotion: We feel for the father and his responsibility towards his family. We applaud him for setting aside his pride to take what many consider the least desirable—even despicable—way to earn a living.  Consider this scene today—would the emotions and undercurrent be any different? Has the idea of working janitorial become any more palatable?

As children, we might have looked at our school janitor as the woman who gave up on her education or the man who didn’t have any other option than to mop floors. It’s messy, even lonely work. Who would willingly pursue the opportunity? But as our world opens, we realize our perspective is likely too narrow. The old adage—we know what we know and don’t know what we don’t know—rings true.

Having worked for one of the largest privately held janitorial companies in the country for a few years, my vantage point has shifted 180-degrees.

Commercial cleaning is much more than a mop and a bucket. It’s part of the invisible engine that keeps a business running uninterrupted. It’s what gives millions a clean desk and empty trash can to start the day—a small distraction you no longer need to be concerned with. It is the smell of your co-worker’s lunch gone, or the puddle of rainwater swept magically away. It makes your office lease more affordable by keeping the building cost and commercial insurance premiums down.

And those are just the basics. An efficient green cleaning company knows the right way to save the building on all costs, with better cleaning efficiencies, time management, and toxin-free products. The result: Good for you, good for your co-workers, good for the environment.

Like most, I know a hospital is not an ideal place to spend time in if not required. Infections, open wounds diseases and more abound. Through my experience and understanding, excellent janitorial or Environmental Services (EVS) create clean and safe hospital facilities, which in turn build confidence in the staff services resulting in improved patient satisfaction. It also means less risk—and potentially less cost carried forward through patient care charges. Leaders within the janitorial healthcare industry are focused on being economically and environmentally friendly. It encourages physicians to focus more intently on the job at hand. So you see young Master Hardy, the janitor mopping the floors is affecting your personal health for the better.

Whether you have a mop in hand or you are the CEO of a cleaning company, you are creating a respected footprint while changing the lives of many. A janitorial worker has pride in what they do, the products used and ways they work; like any person, they deserve—and have earned—our respect. They dedicate their lives cleaning for you and most often without acknowledgment, in the margins, often without recognition. Pride is not the correct word I have for being a part of such a life-changing company, thankful is more accurate.

Tamara Jones, Corporate Communications, Marketing