STAFF TALK: Custodians Bruce Brown and Jeff Gollusky

Jeff+Gollusky.

Jeff Gollusky.

Bruce Brown.
Bruce Brown.

Tell me about your upbringing. What brought you to Mac?

Bruce Brown: I worked as a bartender for 20 years in St. Paul before I met my wife and got married. I came to Mac in January of 2002. So it’s been 12 years for me, and in that time Macalester has been really nice, both to me and for me.

Jeff Gollusky: I grew up in New Brighton. I worked in a warehouse for 15 years and then I went to work for my father at an auto mechanic place. And then one time a girl who worked here came into the shop and told me about the job, so I applied. And I’ve been here 15 years. It’s been a good job.

Do you envision yourself doing something else or are you happy with this job?

BB: Oh, I’m very happy.

JG: If I could do it all over again I would have gone to college.

BB: Same for me.

JG: I think I would have gone into pharmacy or something.

BB: I probably would have gone into sports management or something with sports. I’m a big sports guy. I referee in my free time: basketball, soccer, volleyball, baseball…

Jeff Gollusky.
Jeff Gollusky.

How long do custodians typically stay at Macalester? Do you get to know your coworkers?

JB: From when we’ve first started we’ve lost a lot of people. They’ve retired.

BB: I feel like most people who have this job intend to make it until retirement. There’s really good pay and benefits. We get vacation, medical. It’s good work.

What exactly does your job entail on campus?

JG: We switch jobs every year—it’s based on a bidding system. So, for us, we start at Neill Hall. We go there at 4:30 in the morning then come over to Wallace at 8:30. We go home at 1 and then go back to Neill Hall for a half hour just to check on things, see if there’s anything wrong. One thing is that students usually think we get the summers off too, but we’re here all summer long cleaning all the buildings. I’d love to get the summers off.

BB: When we go into a building we get the trash right away, we get the recycling, and now there’s compost which is a little tougher than some people might think. It’s kind of a nuisance, in a way, with all the fruit flies. But after the trash, we try to get into the bathrooms and get them nice and cleaned up for the students. And then we’ll vacuum the hallways and whatever rooms we can do. There’s some detail work—like dusting and cleaning the glass. Then there are the seasonal things. When winter comes around, we have to shovel out about 15 feet of snow, and then the grounds crew comes and takes care of the rest of it.

Do you have any funny stories of weird things you’ve had to clean up?

BB: Well, when we first started here, they’d put new sod in outside. The students went around and brought the sod in and put it around the toilet seats in the bathroom, so there was dirt like all over the place. It looked kinda cool, because there was just grass all over the bathroom.

What do you like about working here? What do you feel like this community gives you apart from just a job?

BB: Just meeting the kids. We’ve worked in some freshman dorms and we’ve seen students grow up, so I think that’s really cool.

What’s one thing you would change about your job or your role in the Mac community?

BB: It’s just pretty repetitive work, but essentially that’s what it has to be.

JG: Say you’re in construction, and you build a building. People can come along and see that beautiful building day after day. But with what we do, the next day it could be back to the same way. There’s a certain feeling of accomplishment that goes along with it, though.

BB: Then again, if you guys didn’t make a mess we wouldn’t have a job!

Do students communicate their gratitude for what you do?

JG: Yeah, I think they’re grateful.

BB: I think they are too. Overall, I think they are. Whatever building I’m in I try to say hi, just ask them how their day is and stuff like that, just see if they’re okay. I kind of categorize the students here into three categories. There are the really sociable ones who are friendly and willing to talk. Then there are those who are just on their way somewhere – they’ll wave or say hi. But then you have the ones that seem very busy and don’t say hi. You’re studying hard and all; I realize that. But sometimes I wish that they’d say hi.