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Housekeeper Faces Early Morning Rush

Date: May 14, 2000
By: Jennifer Carter
Phone: (513) 556-1805
Photo By: Lisa Britton
Archive: Profiles Archive

Ernie Smith is the strong silent type. "He's very dependable. He's always in good spirits, and faces the world with a subtle sense of humor," says Greg Hand, spokesman for UC.

Smith has been a UC custodial worker for 14 years. He has worked in seven different buildings on the UC campus throughout those years. He now patrols the halls of Blegen Library, where Hand's office is located. Starting at six in the morning, Smith works to clean the libraries, hallways, offices, bathrooms and classrooms. "It's mostly a rush to get the classrooms ready for students, and the offices [finished]. The Marines say 'we do more by 4 a.m. than most people do all day.' Well, it's about the same here," says Smith.

Working with a temporary employee, Smith works to clean everything from toilets to blackboards. Other tasks include mopping, dusting, vacuuming and taking out the trash.

Throughout the years Smith has cleaned some weird things. On one occasion a toilet was marred by a marker. "Somebody just thought it was funny to write on the toilet," he recalls. The weirdest messes Smith encounters come from animals. "Some people bring dogs in the building," he says.

The hardest task for Smith is mopping, waxing and stripping the floors, because they need to be done when people are not in the building. Sometimes even a seemingly simple task like dusting can become problematic due to people's allergies, he says.

Building disasters cause even more work for Smith. "There have been several floods over the years, but not as many since they stopped[using] this one drain that would clog up all the time. Water would back up on the second floor, all up and down the hall," he remembers. After each flood Smith would have to clean up the mess and dry out all the carpet.

The best part of his job, Smith says, is dealing with the customers that come in and out of the building. Away from UC, Smith spends much of his free time visiting with friends and family. Occasionally he joins his friends for a game of cards. He says he once was an avid chess player, but does not play very often anymore.

Before coming to UC, Smith worked as a housekeeping supervisor at a nursing home. A Cincinnati native, Smith now lives in the Corryville area.

To meet other UC people, go to the profiles archive.

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