500 Words At A Time: Ground Crew Demolition Derby

There is a lot that has gone into my college experience. Many things are directly related, such as classes, professors, and registration. Other, such as the ground crew is indirectly related, in that I never worked with the ground crew, but in five years I have seen a lot and what I have seen, shades my view of my time here.

Bushes Need Not Apply: When we moved in, we had a bush. The bush was in front of a tree, which were next to the concrete steps to our front door. Our first winter, we hear and then see the snow removal crew. Imagine a small wheeled green tractor with a plow on the front. The driver drives over the snow, packing it down, to get to his starting point at the back of our court. Once there, lowers the plow to the ground, revs the engine, and drives as fast as possible towards the entrance of the court. The bush was shoved into the tree and the tree is the only thing that kept him from driving into the parking lot. Over the winter, our tree developed a lean from repeated “stops.” When the driver could not hit the tree due to the pile of snow, the drive would use our concrete steps. Each winter we loose another large chunk of concrete goes missing.

We Don’t Need No New Trees: The spring after our first winter, grounds crew planted a tree on the opposite side of the court. There was hope for some greenery. That hope was dashed the next winter when a plow driver tried to use the new tree as a stop and discovered new trees do not have strong roots. Oh well.

Just Pile It Over There: If that wasn’t enough for snow removal, to clear the parking lot, snow is plowed into gigantic piles in open parking spots. If you remember 500 Words: Parking & Neighbors, there are not a lot of open spaces. There is an island and lots of empty space in front of the apartments. As each winter unfolds, the piles in open parking spaces get bigger and bigger. Cars that don’t move get blocked in by piles of snow. All in all it has the look of our kid’s room when we ask them to clean, everything shoved into piles wherever room can be found.

Sidewalk, Street, What’s The Difference: Some of my favorite ground crew moments involve vehicles driving on sidewalks. Ferris State University, like many colleges I imagine, uses students to do minor jobs, such as pick up garbage, clean apartments (they do a bang up job, let me tell you), and deliveries. To get most places, they drive carts and trucks around. The students have a grand ole time driving the carts, trucks, and such on the sidewalks as fast as they can. There is no “pedestrian has the right of way,” you quickly learned to dodge vehicles like Frogger.

There’s Another Way To Pick-Up Trash: Watching the student crew work is also amusing. Each morning a truck or cart drives around the court. At first we had no idea why, because the cart would quickly drive through without stopping. One day, one stopped, the passenger leaned out and used a pointy stick to spear a piece of garbage that was in their path. Turns out that the grounds crew is responsible for picking up loose trash, except that most times they either drive through and don’t stop or they only “pick-up” what is range of the stick from the passenger seat.

Lawn Crew Blame Game: The lawn mowing crew is not part of the grounds crew, no idea why, but their actions are, thus when the two long drainage pipes that extend well into the yard were smashed flat, the grounds crew told us to keep our kids from jumping on them. What? Do you not see the tire marks on both of them in multiple place? Further, why would our child be jumping on them? Didn’t matter, just keep our kids off the pipes.

As funny, frustrating, and baffling as the ground crew can be, listening to the maintenance crew talk about the ground crew is even funnier. Never have I heard of such a rivalry between two work crews. While the ground crew was not something we directly dealt with (other than the drainage pipes), the work done and not done affected my view of the University; when the court was clean of garbage it felt good to live here, but when I can’t walk to the mailbox without seeing garbage it got me down.


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