One would like to think everybody was taught the phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Those who have worked Justin Rummel, one of the two full-time janitors at Centralia Intermediate School, would likely agree with that old saying.
Though many see him driving a floor waxing machine, pushing a dust-mop and, on occasion, cleaning up the aftermath of a youngster’s upset stomach, Rummel is more than a man with a broom.
He has worked in Centralia for around a year.
Family business brought him here from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Speaking frankly, however, revealing some of the “more than the mop” portion of his character.
“Well it’s a little bit of a band thing,” Rummel, former drummer for the professional psychedelic rock band, Ex nihilo said. “That and I didn’t like the ‘stay there forever or the idea,’ and I didn’t want to die five miles from where I was born. That and maybe I partied little bit too hard out there after the band broke up and some of that stuff carried over.”
Along with being a professional musician, he also was a salesman for an art supply house. “That was great. I wanted to be a rock star when I was a kid. I got to support more of my creative side, beside music, I love to paint and working there supported that and brought me into contact with a lot of other creatives – the art, the band the people, all the parts supported each other.”
After the band broke up. Rummel’s road got a little bumpy.
He went from being part of the Vegas art scene to working as a dialysis technician.
His last job in Vegas, he said was assistant manager at a delicatessen.
Compared to that, he said, being part of the support network that keeps CIS’ 275 students safe, is a relatively stress free job.
So, when his sister decided to attend college in Columbia and his mother went along, Rummel decided to follow suit.
Rummel’s mother and sister decided they preferred living in Centralia to Columbia and settled there.
“They’ve both moved on,” he said. “And I like it here and volunteered to stay and take care of the house.”
And he needed a job.
The school district had one.
“I started as a floater, working in all the buildings,” Rummel said. “When they needed another full-time janitor here at CIS, I went for it.”
He said it has been a good fit.
“Mr. Lea, the principal here, we get along and he trusts me to do the job I do.”
That is one of the things Rummel said he likes about his job.
“They trust me to fulfill my responsibilities without micromanaging me,” he said. “I like to be trusted to do my job.”
When not doing that job, still loves his art, his music, which has expanded, he said, into building the occasional electric guitar, and creating artistic abstract pieces from folded paper and paint – a sort of “origami meats Jackson Pollack” sort of thing. And, of course, he still plays the drums along with other insturments and writes his own music.
While many people don’t mind eating lunch at work, one of Rummel’s priorities brings him home for lunch almost every day.
Home to his Beagle, Ringo, a five-year old tri-color beagle he adopted after moving here.
After who else would a professional drummer name his dog?
Ringo doesn’t see too much of Rummel in the mornings. “I hit my snooze button at 4:45 a.m.,” he said. “I try and get out of bed before 5:15. I get to CIS by 6.”
That means, he said that he is the first one there every morning. He is the one that unlocks the doors and puts out the parking cones. “That was a pretty cold job last week,” Rummel said. “But it had to be done and was up to me to do it.”
“That he said, is pretty much his philosophy of work, “If it needs to be done, don’t put it off, get it done.”
His philosophy of life is also direct, and like the man, both simple and complex.
“It is really about the golden rule,” Rummel said. “Try and treat everyone like you want to be treated… People tend to forget how small and insignificant we are in the great scheme of things. It all works better if we try and get along. Like John Lennon said, ‘we just need to love one and other.’”
He said Lennon said a lot of things he finds comforting. “I hope there is never a time when people forget who he is, who he was.”
Back to the job he said, besides being compassionate, and respectful to the students and staff, just like in life, it is important to be able to multi-task, to be flexible.
“When something comes up, like cleaning up after a sick student, you’ve got to be able to drop what you’re doing, take care of what needs to be done, then get right back to things without letting the emergency bother you too much. You’ve got to be able to compartmentalize. Especially here, it’s all about the kids and we all, in our own ways, do what we can to keep them safe.”