My first year at college I was lucky to find a place on the student
support program, i.e., 3 hours a day and more on weekends doing
janitorial chores on campus. My regular assignment was the top two
floors of Old Main, a venerable limestone fortress (still standing and
in use) with oak plank subfloors covered with heavy industrial brown
linoleum. I usually finished around 8 PM and the last chore was to put
away the cleaning tools in a special basement area. The downstairs
crew had finished early, leaving a big wide cloth pushbroom and
related oily rags stacked against the wall instead of in their metal
storage closet. There was a lot of smoke in the area and a small fire
had started in the pushbroom. Luckily, in this janitorial area there
were mop buckets, so I had the fire out in a few minutes, and carried
the sopping residue outside in an open area. After cleaning up the
mess, there was still a nasty burnt area in the linoleum so I
contacted the superintendent and told him what had transpired. Next
day he had a crew replace the burnt spot, but the new linoleum never
did quite match even years later. It was explained to me that they had
always used some oily sweeping compound on the floors for dust
control and that was what had triggered the fire.
It may have been just a coincidence, but a while later I was handed a
much better $$ student assistantship to the drama department where the
main work was resurrecting some really decrepit stage lighting gear
and operating the lighting panel during plays. And building sets. And
subbing for missing performers. Neat
Sometimes you're in the right place at the right time, I guess.
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