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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Beyond the Broom: Custodian Renee Larrick tells us why she loves her job

    Tom Price
    Renee Larrick, a custodian at the University of Arizona for her third school year, answers questions at Colonia De La Paz on Thursday, August 25th. Larrick has spent lots of time working in assisted living homes because of her need to care for those in need.

    Among the labyrinthine staircases of Colonia De La Paz, Renee Larrick smiled at students old and new as she navigated through the A300s and B300s with her housekeeping cart.

    A Tucsonan for over 30 years and a UA custodian for the past two years, Larrick gave the Daily Wildcat a glimpse of her life beyond La Paz’s cinderblock halls.

    After growing up and graduating high school in Indiana, Larrick moved to Tucson with her parents and has remained in the Old Pueblo ever since. After graduating high school, Larrick said helping people became her greatest passion.

    “My mom always used to say I was always looking out for the underdog, so I think I’ve always been like that,” she said.

    Before coming to the UA, Larrick worked at various nursing homes in the Tucson area, including Brookdale Senior Living. As she recounted her grandparents passing, she said she felt a particular connection to assisting the elderly.

    “I’ve always had a soft spot for elderly people,” Larrick said. “They need people to look out for them.”

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    As Larrick settled down and started a family, a change of pace complimented her new life. Larrick said that the hours don’t fluctuate as much in custodial work, so it’s a steadier lifestyle for her.

    Larrick, with a genuine grin plastered on her face, said that working on campus and seeing the students reminds her of her two daughters—Heather, 26, and Brooke, 23.

    Once the end of a long work week rolls around, she likes to spend time relaxing with her husband.

    “On the weekends, we like to play Wii Golf or just watch Netflix,” Larrick said. “My goal is to retire in a few years. I’ve been doing custodial work for a long time.”

    Our conversation paused as one of the residents in the hall asked if he could shower. Larrick gestured him into the bathroom, gently warning him of the slippery floors.

    “I don’t want these kids to go somewhere that’s dirty,” Larrick said. “It doesn’t look good on me, but it’s also not good for them.”

    Larrick said she finds a subtle joy in what she does, confident in her strong work ethic. Students play a large part in her motivation.

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    With a slight shake of her head, Larrick told me how it’s the little things that keep her smiling throughout the year.

    “My first year here, there were some kids making a mess in the hall and the other kids were going after them saying, ‘No, we’re not going to have Renee clean up after you, you need to clean that up,’” Larrick said. “And I really appreciated that.”

    Despite working on the UA campus for only three semesters, Larrick spoke fondly of the students she encounters—sounding as if she had known them for their entire lives.

    “I even remember the students from my first year here, and I always wished they would come back and say hi,” Larrick said.

    So when wads of tangled hair flood the drain and soapy paper towels stick to the floor, maybe take a moment and appreciate the heroes who tackle the dirty horrors of the residence hall bathrooms.

    Follow Lindsey Otto on Twitter.

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