Photo by Heather Middleton
By M.J. Subiria Arauz
Since 1972, Jeanie Lavender has witnessed a busy airport get even
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
"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
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
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
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.