Q&A with long-time custodial leader Mickey Tyler

by Mika Jehoon Lee | 5/12/17 2:00am

From late afternoon to midnight, custodial squad leader Mickey Tyler can be found working to ensure cleanliness and security of many buildings on campus including Collis Center, the Class of 1953 Commons and Parkhurst Hall. Tyler arrived at Dartmouth in 1994 after spending over 20 years driving trucks, backhoes and bulldozers as a construction worker. He was honored at the 2014 Service Awards Banquet for his 20 years of service for Dartmouth, as one of the most experienced custodians at the College.

What are some differences between working as a construction worker and as a custodian?

MT: One difference is that when it is 30 degrees below out, it’s much better being inside the building than being out in the cold. I came here in part because when I worked in construction, I wanted to get out of the cold. There are also more people that you have to deal with. As a construction worker, I was just dealing with my boss or another guy, but as a custodian, I deal with kids, secretaries and so on. So the experience is quite different.

What does a typical day look like for you?

MT: We always come in with a “plan A,” but we always end up doing “plan B” because all the days are different. Plan A would be doing all your common work — taking care of the trash, the bathrooms, dusting, cleaning the stairways and all the chores. Plan B would be if you come in and somebody needs carpet extraction or some extra cleaning because they have a new person coming in. We set it up to get it done as soon as possible. If we can’t get it done that night, we will get it done right away. Another example of plan B would be when one of the three guys that work under me is suddenly out. Then have to rearrange everything. You come in thinking that you are going to do the same thing, but something will pop up that will make your plans all different. This happens almost every day.

What is your favorite part about working at Dartmouth?

MT: I think my favorite part is dealing with the kids. Some of the students are right on it. They go out of their way and they will help you out by picking something up. They reach out and go for it. Once in a while, you run into one or two students that are lazy. They don’t want to move because they are doing work or something. You ask them to move, but they don’t want to move. This is a minor thing, though.

What are your future goals?

MT: In two years, I’m going to retire. I live in Grafton, New Hampshire, and I raise a horse, three donkeys, six dogs, two cats and a bird with my wife. I bought two of the donkeys to keep my horse company because they are pack animals. I wanted some way to keep the horse company when I wasn’t home. Last November we had a baby donkey, so we now have three donkeys. All morning before coming to work, I usually do something out in the fields with my animals, and I am going to spend more time with them and my wife after my retirement.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.