Unanticipated ….#189 (the 80’s)

Shawn Johnson & Pam Cooper

Another Kiowa Grade School fall semester  commencing,  Pam Cooper,  Gary’s custodial co-worker having a work related adversity.  Pam once again complaining about her difficulty utilizing the backpack vacuum on the carpet installed the previous year in the first thru third grade classrooms,  deciding to use a floor push vacuum sweeper and having to move every desk to accommodate its employment.  The floor sweeper, a remnant from the past,  Gary using it daily for the downstairs library and Sally Foresters kindergarten room by Gary.   Mrs. Forester’s room having been the only prior carpeted room in the building with the exception of the office and library.   Gary suggesting Pam approach Juanita Smith the Grade School Principal about requesting a new floor vacuum sweeper, explaining her difficulties with the backpack and mention the age of the floor sweeper.  Pam’s rapport with the Principal was questionable at best, previously having been discovered making direct undisclosed out-of-state long distance calls at 6:00 a.m. on the school’s telephone to her ex-husband in Michigan failing to disclose her actions to administration.

.  Gary by happenstance,  waiting for his afternoon bus route to commence in school secretary Judy Rocket’s office, that adjoined  Principal Juanita Smiths.   Pam Cooper entering Juanita’s office, accosting the principal about acquiring a new floor sweeper for her custodial duties.   Juanita was patient, acknowledging her request,  but illustrating that all the custodian’s in the district utilized the more efficient backpack appliance,  and it would be questionable if Superintendent Piper would approve the request.   Gary and Judy could hear Pam getting belligerent about her discomfort using the backpack, her preference for a floor machines and in a questioning voice rebuked the Principals logic.   Juanita,  remaining composed,  replying,  Pam would have to make do with what she had to work with.  In a sudden burst,  Pam slammed her school keys on Juanita’s desk and exited  the building, the Principal looked up,  noticing that Judy and Gary had witnessed the incident.

.Gary’s first thoughts was of Pams scheduled bus route,  immediately suggesting to Juanita  he would fine and ask Cathy Cox, who was licensed,  if she would accommodate Pam’s student delivery duty.  Gary returning after securing Cathy’s availability, finding  Juanita clasping a purse, it was Pam’s,  who in her haste had left it.   Gary offering to return it, knowing that Pam and her boys had moved into an apartment across the street from the school.  Crossing  south of the school, Gary approached Pam’s place of residence,  able to see her thru the screen door  sitting in a rocker,  her actions giving concern,  she was rocking back and forth with a look of asperity on her face.   Handing her the purse,  Gary concurred with her litigation,  soliciting her to apologize to Juanita and return to her school duties, but it was to no avail, her temperament still abounding, a look of consternation on her face.

.  With Pams termination, Gary now the schools solitary custodian accepting Pams classroom and cleaning assignments,  not a new experience,  having accorded the responsibility during her sick day absences’, but recognizing the custodial vacancy annunciation was in need of  immediate attention,  an available person coming to mind, his brother-in-law,  Shawn Johnson.    Shawn was currently employed by their father-in-law’s business,  Murrow Construction.  Bud having let some of the family know he wasn’t too enthusiastic about hiring Shawn,  acknowledging the provision until Shawn could find other employment.  Gary informing the Johnson family of the school custodial vacancy,  Shawn was very receptive, immediately retaining and submitting an employment application at the School Central Office.

.  Gary being privileged to a discerning relevance by superintendent secretary,  Wanda Eckert,   divulging that Juanita Smith upon hearing about Shawn’s application was  detrimental to his employment,  questioning his character,  having established a reputation during his prior South Barber school years.  Gary questioning the reasoning,  deciding to talk to Glen,  approaching the Superintendent’s office on a deliberate mission to affirm Shawn’s qualifications.  Glen acknowledging  Gary’s approbation for his brother-in-law’s employment and mentioned that he respected Gary‘s advocacy.   The conversation turning,  the superintendent directing a response from Gary with a question.  If Shawn was hired, he wanted assurance that Gary would administer a degree of awareness to Shawn’s propriety,  Gary understanding  the reality of what was not being  said, in other words keep an eye on him.

.  Gary,  for the first time in five years of maintaining two-thirds of the custodial assignments for the school finding relief with the accession of Shawn,  some of the workload responsibility being lifted.   Gary no longer singularly responsible for the two most time consuming projects,  the mowing,  and the never accomplished continuous floor maintenance of the gym.   Shawn volunteering to dust mop the gym floor before, during and after school,  Gary still involved with the care of the stage,  dressing rooms and bleachers.   The school year continuing, Gary maintaining his 12 hour  schedule,  arriving and unlocking the gate to the fenced High School bus security area at 5:00 a.m.   Shawn arriving about the same time,  their schedule coinciding at the beginning of the day,  but differing in the afternoon,  Gary accomplishing an hour for lunch at home,  working till 6 pm,  Shawn taking a thirty minute lunch and finishing his day at 5:30.

 As the year progress, Gary noticed an abridgment in his brother-in-law starting time,  it wasn’t consistent,  some mornings arriving at the school as late as 6:00 a.m.,  nevertheless,  finding him staying later in the day to maintain his required hours, but soon that too was displaced, entertaining an earlier departure time.   Gary reasoned it was none of his business considering the work was being accomplished, the only impropriety of gravity was Shawn’s fallacious documentation.   It was Gary’s responsibility to delivery the Grade Schools custodians self endorsed handwritten time cards to the Central Office, the custodians were district employees under the supervision of the Superintendent,  not the principal of the school as most of the public assumed.  Gary couldn’t help but notice Shawn’s late morning appearance and his early departures, but his hourly written record didn’t reflect actuality,  Shawn’s time card always proclaiming a 12 hour day and a 60 hour week.

.  It wasn’t long, coming to the conclusion,  his brother-in-law’s perspective of the school was just that, a school, nothing more, nothing less.   Gary feeling different, having stood in the darken school hallway before sunrise, the surroundings casting an echoing silence, its 50 years presence giving voice to the embroilment of a learning citadel,  soon to come to life with the bustle and vibrant expectation of young students  and the caring natured atmosphere  radiating from  educators in the classroom.  Shawn was a definite asset but Gary having a sense that Shawn’s school employment would not be one of longevity,

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