Being a janitor isn’t always easy, especially at a middle school. Most of the time they get the dirty work but Otis, a janitor at Palm Desert Charter Middle School, does every task with a smile on his face.
NBC Palm Springs shadowed the beloved worker on Wednesday as he got ready for the first day of school on Thursday.
“I like the power washer,” Otis said with a big grin. “It’s like a big water gun and I have fun with that.”
You can tell Otis is in the halls of the school through his signature sounds: jingling keys and a monstrous laugh.
“I need something hung, he’s here,” Tracy Beidenbach, a teacher at the school, said. “I need something painted, he paints it for me.”
She said Otis wears more than one hat when he’s on the clock and never complains while doing his duties; to the parents, it shows.
Oan Oh has sent three kids to Palm Desert Charter Middle School. Each one has told her separately and together how much they love Otis.
“He’s helpful, he plays sports with them, he’s the coolest guy,” she said.
The word “no” isn’t in his vocabulary.
“He’ll come in on the weekend, he’ll help you move stuff, he goes above and beyond his job every single day,” Jodi Fecera, another teacher said.
When it comes to pep rallies and assemblies, Fecera said he’s always the lead.
“At first, he doesn’t want to do it but when he hears the applause from the staff and the students, he feeds off the applause and then he just wants to make the staff and students happy.”
Breidenbach said the students love him so much, some stick around after school to help him.
“There are students that don’t have anybody at home after school and they will come here and they will pick up trash for him,” she said. “They will do whatever he asks them to do.”
Of course, everything is done at an “Otis pace” which is faster than humanly possible.
“He doesn’t just service the school, he serves the community,” Breidenbach said.
Oh said having Otis at school makes her feel better about dropping her kids off.
“It makes you feel comfortable that they’re being looked after.”
Otis said he loves everything about his job but the two things he does not like: gum and sticky candy. That’s when he cranks out the power hose.