Columbia's dirty jobs: City cleaner

Wednesday, November 7, 2007 | 10:04 p.m. CST; updated 8:27 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008
Mark Anderson cleans for the City of Columbia and The Blue Note everyday. Anderson enjoys being downtown so often and the interaction he has with people as he works. This portrait was taken on October 31, 2007.

Mark Anderson has two dirty jobs. He is employed by the city for daily upkeep of downtown, which includes cleaning sidewalks and removing graffiti. His other job is cleaning up at The Blue Note before and after shows and other events. He begins his daily routine by scouring downtown for any refuse, and around noon he heads over to The Blue Note, often to clean up from the night before and to prepare for the coming evening.

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DIRTY JOBS Name: Mark Anderson Age: 39 Occupation: Cleaner for the City of Columbia and The Blue Note.

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Why do you do it?

“‘Cause I love it. I love my job. I love the downtown. I love the people and the people I work for.”

What’s the worst holiday or event for cleanup downtown?

“The Twilight Festival, although it’s getting better.”

And football games?

“There’s a direct correlation between their (the Tigers’) winning and trash.”

What do you dislike about your job?

“Cold, cold, cold weather,” Anderson said. “And human feces.”

“I’ve cleaned up panties and underwear.”

Where do you find panties?

“I just find them in weird places, like right outside of a bar. Then you find some stuff up in trees.”

At The Blue Note, what has been particularly difficult to clean up after?

“‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’, that was a nightmare. They had rice. It was horrible. Oh God, it was horrible. It was confetti, it was rice, it was toilet paper rolls.”

“We’re still cleaning up rice from that show.”

Do you go to all the shows?

“No. I’m on my feet almost 16 hours a day.” Anderson said he wouldn’t want to stand any longer just to see a concert.

Is there anything people might not know about your job?

“That it’s nasty.” Anderson himself doesn’t have a strong stomach so he finds himself looking the other way when he has to pick up unpleasant items such as human feces from the street.

What’s in your future?

“There’s a lot that I want to do, I just have to figure out how to do it.”

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Mark Foecking November 8, 2007 | 3:33 a.m.

Hey Mark!

I know him from the 'hood. Good guy. Hauls stuff in his spare time for people.

Another person to interview is Sue Garner, with the parking dept. She's on mornings, and Sundays after games. Neat older woman (maybe 50 - the exercise keeps her looking nice)- pleasant. Keeps the garages downtown picked up. The drunks give her a hard time sometimes.

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