Custodian calls it quits after 17 years

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 5/31/00.

Cal Anderson After 17 years, it's impossible to recall the face of every student or staff member who has passed through the school halls.

Cal Anderson, though, remembers all the barnyard animals. Anderson, a custodian in the Paynesville school system, counts four turkeys, two pigs, and two chickens, all let loose in the school during his tenure.

Anderson raised one pig himself, and gave the others away. None of the animals made near the mess of one sick student, but chasing the animals down was a challenge.

A challenge he won't miss in his retirement. Anderson's last working day was Friday. He will use vacation days until his official retirement on July 1, and he won't miss the end of the school year clean up at the schools this spring.

Anderson started as a custodian on the night shift at the high school. After a decade on that assignment, he shifted to a floating maintenance job during regular school hours. He and another custodian float between buildings to handle regular duties and emergencies. "Whatever needs to be done, we take care of," Anderson said.

Anderson said he will miss the students and the teachers. Two students this year became honorary custodians, and Anderson's wife, Arlene, stitched their names onto Cal's old work shirts for them.

There are, of course, students whom Anderson won't miss. He said the most frustrating part of the job was willful destruction of property by a handful of students.

After almost two decades at the school, Anderson reported that students are still the same. They still know how to make messes. "That'll never change," he said.

Students do dress differently, though, and Anderson doesn't like the turn to more flamboyant styles, some of which he considers inappropriate.

Technology has obviously changed dramatically during the past 17 years. Now classrooms have computers and telephones, and the custodial staff keeps in constant contact via two-way radios. A side effect, according to Anderson, are more demands, especially from the younger generation.

Anderson is undecided about his future plans for work. He may try something part time. He is certain about how he is going to spend his new free time: hunting and fishing. In fact, he planned to be on Lake Koronis yesterday morning as fellow staff members were leaving their lake homes for school.

He also wants to do some traveling, especially to visit his kids. He has a daughters in Germany and Florida and sons in Salt Lake City and Indiana.

"I'm happy to go," Anderson said of his retirement. "Everything comes to an end. Nothing lasts forever."

Return to Archives