Melissa’s Cleaning Adventures: Graffiti

As promised, this is the 1st part of my cleaning adventures or even experiences.

This 1 is about Graffiti, which is  a pet hate of mine.

When I was cleaning trains, most days we would come across minor graffiti, which consisted of scribbling on the walls and seats. This would take time to remove, and most of the time, there would be no sign of the marks.

Of course, some times, the train may not come into the Maintenance Centre for a while, therefore, the graffiti may dry and would be hard to remove.

This would result in the panelling being completely replaced, same with the vinyl seats.

My favourite graffiti was in the lavatory. Someone would write a novel on the back of the door, which differed at times, and I actually loved reading it, but my job was to remove it, which would be done in around an hour.

The reason why it would take longer, was because I was in an enclosed area and the fumes would become slightly toxic.

Once the area was clean, I would move on to my next job.

Every cleaner was given their daily tasks, some would be on deep cleans of carriages, others on minor, quick clean, others cleaning lavatories, or carpet cleaning, sometimes we were put on Graffiti removal.

1 day, when I was on Graffiti removal, a door to the lavatory closed, causing the caustic remover to splash onto my clothes and gave me a 3rd degree burn. This resulted in me being taken to hospital and put on light duties for almost 5 weeks.

I learnt my lesson from this, and started being more cautious, taking Safety much more serious.

When I was cleared to work again, a dedicated Graffiti team had been allocated. I was 1 of those chosen to be in this team, which was fun as we all worked together.

Mondays or 1st day after a weekend, was the worst as that was when most of the Graffitied trains came in.

Another part of our Graffiti removal was Murals.

For those who don’t know, this is when someone or someone’s would paint either a full side of a carriage/s or the entire carriage, which would entail all in our team to get in and remove the mural.

The worst 1 we had, was all 4 carriages, including both external drivers cabins windows, which meant this train had to be towed to the centre to be cleaned.

This took us 3 days to remove as it was so thick and hard to remove. Once we had finished, we decided to check inside the train and guess what, inside had been graffitied too. This took another 2 days to fully remove.

Thankfully, where the incident took place, the offenders were caught on camera and soon apprehended.

I don’t know what happened to them, but hope they were severely punished, both by gaol time and financial penalties.

When I started working at stations, I thought Graffiti removal was over, how wrong was I?

My 1st shift at a station, was nightshift, which included cleaning the lavatories. As I walked into 1, all I saw was paint. Thankfully it was still wet, which made removal very easy. When I was finished, the walls looked brand new.

I was offered a temporary promotion, working at a city station.

When we started, the lavatories were still being refurbished. They were opened around 2 weeks later, however, within 2 hours, 4 cubicles had been hit. The head cleaner before me locked these cubicles. The reason being, they did not have enough staff on to remove the graffiti, but knew I would on the afternoon shift, which I understood.

Once I started, I allocated 3 other staff members to assist me. What this meant, was the entire lavatories were closed for safety reasons.

We got to and removed the graffiti; however, the remover was caustic and even wearing our PPE, it still caused us all to be affected. We would clean for around 15 minutes, then taken a 15 minute break, to go to the street and get some fresh air and drink some water too.

There were many complaints about the lavatories being closed, however, most people understood the reasons why, some did not and demanded to be allowed to use them. Thankfully, we had security nearby watching, who backed me up. N.B. There were more lavatories close by, which people could use, but they were too lazy to walk to them.

When we finally had removed all the graffiti, we got to and cleaned the lavatories, then once the floors had dried, I reopened them.

The funny thing was, despite being on CCTV, the walls and seats would be graffitied too, thankfully when I was on duty, I would conduct regular inspections of the station, carrying the graffiti remover with me, so I could remove the graffiti quickly.

1 shift, during my inspection, I could smell spray paint, and suddenly looked to see several youths, spray painting a wall. I called the station manager about this to arrange for security to come down, which they did within several minutes, detaining each youth. They had been caught on CCTV.

I closed off the area, which was not easy, as we had trains arriving constantly, but had arranged for each train to close off the 1st car at the previous station.

Thankfully, the time to remove this graffiti was short.

My time at this station was soon over and I was sent back to my original location.

However, the Graffiti team had been disbanded. Although, if a mural needed removing, we would be called upon to remove it.

Most Mondays this was our allocated work for the entire shift.

Several months later, my transfer was approved, to a station closer to home.

Within a couple of months, there was a shake-up with many changes. I was allocated to station cleaning on nightshift full time, which I loved. Graffiti was still prevalent too, but not as much as it was on trains.

Suddenly, I was informed, I was not easy to work with and would be going to another location.

I heard, someone had been spreading lies about me, but instead of people coming to talk to me, they believed what was said. These lies followed me to the new depot, which hurt me as these lazy people believed what was said, despite me being a hard worker.

I still don’t know what was said, but feel it was 1 person who was lazy and jealous that I was a hard worker.

Honestly, I despised this depot as the other cleaners were all male and very toxic.

We had trains which came in with graffiti in or on them, usually the lavatory, there was 1 lavatory per 4 cars.

I was not allowed to assist with mural removal, which suited me.

Thankfully, our Out sourced Manager knew about me from other managers and offered me the chance to be the fill in Team Leader at another close by depot.

I remember 1 night talking to the security guard in the CCTV room, when I suddenly saw a group of people spray painting a brand new set. Police were notified as was the control room to have all trains stopped, as these people heard the sirens and absconded. Because of the quick reactions by our security guard, each offender was caught.

I grabbed my team and we soon had the graffiti removed.

As was policy, photos were taken before and after, then sent to the relevant section. I found out later, these offenders had been tagging other areas of the city.

My tenure working for this organisation soon ended.

This end this part of this series.

Please stand by for the next part soon:

Inner City Station.

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