The Life of Chuck: insight into a “daytime janitor”

The Life of Chuck: insight into a

Daytime janitor Chuck Crowther moves boxes to the second floor.

Ernad Minic, Staff Writer

Most people at LHS perceive Chuck Crowther as simply “the guy in charge of cleaning the caf,” or “the maintenance chief,” who keeps the school running. Some even know him as the guy who was challenged repeatedly last year by the infamous taunt: “Chuck can’t stop ‘em,” graffitied throughout the bathrooms.

However, few students or staff alike have ever gotten to know the real Chuck.

So I set out on a mission for the Cub to uncover his story.

I rap on the door of E001. The door creeks open. Chuck scans up and down the hallway, as if he’s worried about somebody catching him letting a student enter his domain. He hides behind the door as if he’s granting me entrance to a top-secret lair. Upon entrance, I notice the car-sized table at which all of the janitors sit and talk, although it’s empty now. A television sits at one end of the room, and computers are in the other corner. The secrecy of the room, coupled with the lack of windows, made me feel like I was in the bat cave.

I take a seat. Chuck slams his six-foot frame into a chair, and his body leans back then comes forward into a slouch as his left arm bangs down on the surface of the table. He places his right hand on his blue-jean clad leg.

Let’s start with Chuck’s history.

Chuck grew up in Ludlow and graduated from Ludlow High School in 1979. “School is slightly different now,” he says, specifically noting that smoking cigarettes was allowed just outside the building. I feel too awkward to ask if he took advantage of this privilege.

Right out of high school, Chuck toiled for 20 years at Edward’s Food Warehouse, which used to be located at the abandoned Circuit City on the corner of Boston Road and Parker Street in Indian Orchard.

Chuck has been working at LHS since 1999. He started out as nighttime janitor and changed to daytime janitor in 2001 (“I’m just a daytime janitor, nothing more, nothing less,” he says). His relationships with the four principals that have been at LHS since 1999 have all been good.

“My favorite part about my job is the staff and almost all students,” says Chuck. He hates cleaning the cafeteria, especially if food and garbage is left behind purposely. “The grossest thing about my job has to be cleaning up vomit,” he says, shaking his head in disgust.

A question many might have is, has Chuck “stopped ‘em?” The culprits were eventually caught in the act and disciplined. “You can’t get away with anything in this school,” says Chuck with a slight smile. He lifts his head slightly to reveal a look of accomplishment.

Chuck’s daily routine consists of: opening the building, firing up the lights, unlocking the doors, and cleaning his “area.”

Chuck’s area is the cafeteria, auditorium, A119, choir room, band room, and wood shop. The rest of his day is cleaning and fixing whatever needs attention, like backed-up toilets and coffee spills.

At this point in the interview, a student bangs on the door in search of help. Apparently, he left his earring in a classroom that has since been locked. “Can you please unlock this room? I can see my earring through the window,” the kid pleads. Chuck exits the bat cave to save the day once again. In two or three minutes, Chuck re-enters.

Every day, Chuck leaves school at 1:55 and goes to his home in Ludlow. Some of his hobbies include woodworking, and redoing his 1970 Dodge Challenger that he’s been working on for about 20 years now. “It’s very slowly coming along. I work on it when I get the chance,” says Chuck.

Chuck’s not too old to try new things. He’s been rockin’ on the drums for four years now. It’s something he says he’s always wanted to do. He plays alternative music, like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fuel. “I just learned a new song by Fuel, called ‘Slow’,” he says.

Chuck’s last vacation was to Alaska in July of last year. He and his wife flew out to Seattle,Washington, where they stayed for two days. They then boarded the cruise which lasted seven days. In Alaska, he and his wife climbed an 1,800-foot tram atop Mt. Roberts in Juneau. They went to several places in Alaska; they then sailed back to Seattle where they stayed for two more days before coming back to Ludlow. “I loved it,” says Chuck.

He doesn’t read much, he confesses, claiming he’s a busy guy. But when he does read, it’s “car stuff,” like Road & Track Magazine.

Chuck doesn’t like T.V. either, unless it’s the news.

“’Law & Order’ is always on in my house,” says Chuck, but he doesn’t watch it by choice. His wife, Cindy, two daughters, Valerie and Samantha, and son, Craig (who is moving out at the end of this month) like it, so he has to put up with it.

“When it comes to movies, I usually like comedies,” he said. Chuck is a fan of National Lampoon’s Animal House. A perfect meal for Chuck would be veal parmesan with Blue Moon Beer.

Now to Chuck’s style.

He sort of started growing his hair long around the same time he started losing it — he hasn’t gotten a haircut since 1997.  “To be honest, it falls out faster than it grows,” he says with a chuckle. Chuck dresses the same outside of school as he does in school: t-shirt and jeans. “I’m not too big into clothes shopping,” he says.

However, Chuck does the grocery shopping, cooking and laundry due to his wife’s disability. “She’s been cooking and cleaning for me all these years, it won’t hurt if I do the same for her,” he says.

Chuck’s ideal hangout place is Cumberland Farms, and he’s usually there before he comes to work. “I go there for coffee everyday at around4:30 a.m.,” he says. Coffee is his pick-me-up.

Seeing that we’re back to the start of Chuck’s day I realize it’s time to bring the interview to an end. I grab my notebook and recorder, shake hands, and say goodbye. I exit the bat cave and leave Chuck to wait until duty calls for him to save the day at LHS once more.