“Hey, you,” Mark began. “Can you come clean this up for us?” he asked the janitor, Mrs. Connors, waving her over. I was able to recognize the edge to his voice, and I absolutely hated it.
I peered over at Mrs. Connors trudging down the hallway of our school once again. She looked quite tired and exhausted as dark circles were evident underneath her blue eyes. I forced my gaze off of her and looked back down at the messy floor. We were going to our next class when my friend, Mark, had dropped his water bottle on the white tiles of the hallway. Water spewed everywhere and the mess had to be cleaned up by somebody. Luckily, Mrs. Connors was right around.
I looked back up at her. She was being pushed around by students trying to get to their classes. I heard her as she muttered apologies to students who shot her terrifying glares for being in the way with her mop and her red bucket of water. As she approached us, her lips twitched into a smile and she set her bucket down on the floor.
“How are you guys, Mark and Rose?” she inquired kindly as she started moping.
I opened my mouth to respond when I felt someone tugging at my sleeve and pulling me away.
“We should get going to class now, Rose,” Mark advised. He quietly added, “It’s creepy she knows our names.”
It wasn’t really weird she knew our names. Mrs. Connors knew everyone’s name at our high school, Sunnyside Secondary School, yet barely anyone could even remember her name, kept disregarding her, and could never be polite with her.
I wanted to say, “Thank you,” to her for mopping up the floor, but we turned around the corner and she disappeared from our sight.
The next day at Sunnyside, school seemed a bit different. Mrs. Connors was missing and the school was in the filthiest state I had ever seen it in. We had a few volunteer janitors, but they were barely even able to clean a quarter of the school, and were never found when needed. The students and teachers seemed disgusted by the way the classrooms, bathrooms, and hallways looked, and there seemed to always be someone complaining about the mess.
The day after the absence of Mrs. Connors, the school was back to being spotless. Most people had realized that Mrs. Connors was a huge part of the school’s success and finally treated her with the appreciation she deserved. No one ever realizes what they have until it’s gone, and this was something that remained in the minds of many.
(Neha Khakhar is a 13-year-old student living in Brampton. She’s an avid reader, loves writing and all things creative.)