Jason Willoughby, Doug Walker, and Eric Williams were caretakers at Marc Garneau C.I. Their last day at the school was 7 April 2017. As a tribute to their dedication to Garneau, The Reckoner interviewed the three of them for a special Staff Feature.

Previous MGCI caretakers, Eric Williams [left], Doug Walker [middle], and Jason Willoughby [right]. Photo: Julien Lin

Q: What do you do at Marc Garneau?

Jason: I’m the shift leader at Garneau. So, I’m in charge of the caretakers at night, making sure the school gets cleaned.

Doug: I’m a caretaker here, I keep the place clean and safe for the children.

Eric: I’m a caretaker, I come in the evening and go to my section, where I start working.

Q: How long have you been working at Marc Garneau?

Jason: I’ve been working at Marc Garneau for twenty-six long years. I started here in 1991.

Doug: On and off, twenty years.

Eric: Nine years.

Q: How did you become a caretaker?

Jason: By fluke, a friend of mine had gotten the job for the East York Board of Education and he said to me that they were hiring. So, I went and put an application in and became a caretaker.

Doug: I was a tradesman in the mid 90s and there wasn’t much work so I just put my name in, and lucky me got here.

Eric: In 2005, I applied at the head office. I was lucky to get an interview and from there I went to other stuff, like tests and police clearance.

Q: What do you like about the school and why did you choose to work here?

Jason: When I got hired, I didn’t really choose to work here; you kind of get placed by the Board. The best about it is just working with the people, the kids, and meeting so many different people over the years whom you build relationships with.

Doug: I left the school for a bit and then I came back because of the people I work with; I really enjoy their company. My work is similar to the work of other caretakers, but the people I work with make it what it is.

Eric: Well to be honest, when the posting comes out, there are a number of schools, so I put anywhere and was lucky to get Marc Garneau. I like Marc Garneau because it is a very clean school to begin with. I find the students and staff are very good.

Q: Has anything changed at the school over your career?

Jason: Everything. The school and staff used to be half the size; I think now we have about one hundred fifty staff members. When I first started, there might have been fifty people.

Doug: Yes, it’s gotten much larger. There were actually more caretakers then than there are now before the new wing was built. But like anything, aspects change and aspects stay the same.

Eric: Yes, I think since Ms. Goldenberg came here there were some changes for the better. For example, in our year, she did a lot in the cafeteria. When I came here, the floors were a different material and now there are tiles everywhere. She even redid the kitchen. It makes our job a little easier when it comes to cleaning.

Q: What is the hardest part of your job?

Jason: There’s not really a hard part, it’s just the repetitiveness of it. Every day, it’s a lot of the same thing, monotony.

Doug: Dealing with people who don’t really understand what it is we do.

Eric: When I am told to do something a different way after I’ve finished. For example, we set up the furniture and someone comes and says it should be another way. Then we have to redo it.

Q: What is the best part of your job?

Jason: The best part of my job is working with my people: we’ve all become friends over the years. And seeing you guys. It’s great to see someone coming in Grade 9 and all of a sudden be in Grade 12 and going off to university. You might not know a lot of names but everyone will recognize faces.

Doug: Dealing with people who do understand what we do. (*laughs*)

Eric: The best part of my job is coming here and working independently and collectively with my coworkers. We work together sometimes and it makes our job much easier.

Q: Is there anything you will miss doing at this school?

Jason: Well, I miss it all. It’s all about relationships, who you have met along the way. When you’re going off to a different school I’ll be doing the same thing but in a different environment. I’m going to a tiny school; here, there are eighteen hundred students, I’m going to a school with one hundred fourteen. So, there’s going to be culture shock.

Doug: Just the interactions with my coworkers and the staff here. There’s a lot of good staff. The principal and vice-principal are excellent, the hall monitors are all good people. So, that’s what I’ll miss the most, the people.

Eric: I can say very sincerely that the interactions with my coworkers are very good. We socialize a lot and I could depend on them for a favour or to do something, in terms of my job.

Q: What is your pet peeve?

Jason: My pet peeve is people not respecting the school. Kids, and teachers as well, thinking that caretakers are here to be a maid to whomever is in the building. It’s not like that, we’re here to provide a service for everybody, by keeping the building safe, clean, and a nice environment for you guys to learn in.

Doug: Common sense is not that common.

Eric: I hate it when someone does not confront me with something and they say something behind my back. I like it when people speak to me upfront. I hate gossiping and things like that.

Q: What is something you wanted to do in life but never got the chance to?

Jason: Well there’s things I’d love to do and still might have the chance to. I mean, I’d love to jump out of a plane and skydive or maybe bungee jump. I’m still young, don’t let the grey hair fool you.

Doug: I don’t have any regrets but I’d say skydiving. I was supposed to do that for my first anniversary, didn’t end up happening.

Eric: When I was in high school, I always wanted to do something with journalism and interviewing people. I grew up in Guyana and did some work with the national newspaper called the Guyana Chronicle before I came here. I like writing, so, I did some articles on community events but I never got the chance to get into it. There are not a lot of newspapers there so a lot of people want to get in and there is a lot of competition.

Q: Do you want to say anything to the student body?

Jason: Work hard, set your goals, achieve them, and move on. Do something that you love to do, don’t do something that you are forced to do. Find something that you’re passionate about and do it because when you finally get a job, it’s a long time. Your life is ahead of you, not behind.

Doug: Don’t let anybody tell you, you can’t.

Eric: The Reckoner is very good at communicating information. I always pick it up to see what’s going on. I think it’s something that is great for a school to have.

Q: Do you have any advice for future caretakers?

Jason: Go to school and get a better job. (*laughs*)

Doug: Enjoy it for what it is, don’t take it to heart.

Eric: My only advice would be, come to work and do what you need to do because you get paid to do it and you should do a proper job.

Q: Which school are you going to work at?

Jason: I’m going to be the head caretaker at Manhattan Park Junior Public School.

Doug: I’m going to work at SATEC @ W. A. Porter CI.

Eric: I’m going to be working at Lester B. Pearson.