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Maintenance worker nearing 40 years at airport

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By M.J. Subiria Arauz

marauz@news-daily.com

Since 1972, Jeanie Lavender has witnessed a busy airport get even

busier.

Lavender, of Forest Park, said she is a general cleaner for ICS

Contract Services, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International

Airport, but has been a maintenance employee at the airport for 39

years.

"I've seen so many things," she said with a bright smile.

She said she currently is responsible for a women's restroom at the

atrium, which includes cleaning the sink areas, restroom stalls and

toilets, as well as stocking toiletry items. In addition, she serves

as a bathroom attendant and her name is displayed near the entrance

of the restroom, she said.

Lavender added that she uses an area on a sink countertop to place a

decorative piece surrounded by lotions and creams for women who use

the restroom.

She said she works Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m., to 3 p.m.

"Every day, someone is asking me something," said Lavender about the

additional customer service skills she applies to her responsibilities.

Passengers ask about things such as lost items, and directions to

concourses and security checkpoint areas, she said.

In certain situations, Lavender said, she personally leads passengers

to the locations they need to find.

She said her job, though it may seem simple, is challenging because

of the multi-tasking that is involved. "Helping people -- I feel good

about that," said Lavender. "I meet different types of people every

day."

She said she deals with passengers with easy-going and difficult

attitudes, though those having a bad day recognize her professionalism.

"I have to keep smiling," said Lavender.

Lavender said her 39-year journey at the airport began on March 15,

1972, at the old terminal of the airport. She said she was walking

through the airport in search of a job, and a supervisor for Tri-

Annual Service, a contractor hired by the airport at the time,

approached her about a maintenance opening. Lavender said she applied

for the position and was chosen for the job.

She was responsible for cleaning the terminal.

"The old [terminal] was much smaller," said Lavender. "It only had a

concourse and a main terminal."

She later transferred to the present midfield terminal when it was

completed in 1980. The old terminal was eventually demolished.

The changes at the airport Lavender has witnessed also include the

construction of the 1.3-million-square-foot international concourse,

Concourse E, and the fifth runway.

Lavender said she remembers a time when the main security checkpoint

area had about five or six security lanes, and now it has 22 lanes.

In addition, there was a barbershop and a game room on the far right

of the security checkpoint area, upon entering it, she added.

Lavender said that although she enjoys her job, the only time she

ever thought about quitting was on Sept. 11, 2001, after the

terrorist attacks.

She said she witnessed some passengers shaking nervously, while

talking on their cell phones.

"I thought somebody might attack at the airport," she said. "I put

trust in God."

Lavender said she was married to her ex-husband for 12 years, and has

two children, Nicle Maddox, 31, and 27-year-old Eric Lavender. She

said she enjoys time with her grandson, Michael Maddox, age 5.