By Richard Zagrzecki
Every other Monday, Johnnie King wakes up in the wee hours of the morning and gets ready to come to work.
By 2:30 a.m., he’s climbing into the driver’s seat of a street sweeper parked in the back bay of the physical plant at the University of Houston. For the next three hours, he stays behind the wheel, cleaning various entrances on campus before students, faculty and staff start arriving on campus.
It’s a routine that started with the recent implementation of a regularly scheduled street cleaning program. King, a 23-year UH employee and supervisor in the Recycling and Solid Waste department, is in charge of it.
University Boulevard/Entrance 1 is included in the cleaning schedule, as is Entrance 14 and Entrance 16 near the Moores School of Music.
“The sweeper can suck up just about anything, including leaves, cans, cigarette butts,” King said. “It can pick up a lot of things.”
The cleaning schedule can be adjusted if needed. King will keep close tabs on the situation to determine if tweaks are warranted.
“We’ll go every other week for now and kind of monitor it to see how many leaves are falling and how much trash accumulates,” he said. “If we need to do it more often we can.”
Waking up so early may be tough on most people, but King said he doesn’t mind. He goes to bed at 7:30 p.m. and gets a good five hours of sleep.
“This is an important new program here at the University of Houston, and I am glad to be a part of it,” he said. “It feels really good knowing I am playing a key part in keeping the campus looking the best it can.”