Posted December 2, 2010 by Sarah-Ann Harnick 

The Facilities Guys Who Mentored Me

As promised in my post last month, Passing the Facilities Test: It Never Ends..., here is my story of the old guys who mentored me.

Andy, Jim, and Rich …

They were the guys from facilities and construction management who were always there for me. They all retired without any fanfare or any special thanks for answering all my questions and treating me with respect. Andy and Jim had both been general contractors. I think Andy just saw me as another customer until he realized that the leaky roof information I provided was correct and very precise. When he became the project manager to rehab our three elevators, Andy would actually turn to me in meetings to answer questions. After all, who else is going to know the locations of the buttons within the cabs?

Jim was just enough old-school that he would occasionally tell me that he had worked for the Girl Scouts, building one of their camps, as if to indicate that I wasn’t the first woman with which he had worked. And for all you Girl Scouts—Jim was very impressed with your knowledge and expertise. When we first bought our house, Jim would listen to my tales of tyro stupidity without laughing too hard.

And then, there is Rich. I once read that some people bond only through adversity. Rich and I argued so much for the first year I was at New Jersey City University that I was actually told to be nice (by my female boss) to him. The final test came when Rich expected that his crew could do some kind of work in our student union when it was closed. My response: “Well, then it won’t get done.” BINGO. Rich became my mentor and best bud on campus.

Rich taught me things that no one else would have mentioned: 

  • If you’re going to rent a 10-yard dumpster, you might as well rent a 20-yard dumpster because the neighbors are going to take advantage of the dumpster either way. 
  • “The elevator isn’t working” is a statement. A complete list including the cab’s current location, the disposition of the doors (floor and/or cab), and a list of which call buttons the car will respond to—that is the report the service tech needs to have. 
  • You can’t fit five pounds of candy into a three pound bag.

By the time I had overcome all his challenges, I was asking Rich how his son was doing and he was recommending new cars. Rich was one of the first people I told when I became engaged. I became his sounding board when the family cat became gravely ill.

I guess I’m writing this for two reasons: First, to show that women on the operational side of the house have lots of allies, and you never know who they may be. The second reason is a kind of “thanksgiving.” Andy, Jim, and Rich expected me to be good at my job and took the time to help me do my job better. I am very grateful for that. 

Sarah-Ann Harnick

Sarah-Ann Harnick is the Assistant Director- Campus Life at New Jersey City University.

Sarah Harnick became active in ACUI with her first job in student activities of Rider then-College. After earning her master’s in fine arts from the University of Texas, she relocated to New Jersey and just never left the state. Intrigued by how things work, she accepted an operations position at New Jersey City now-University where she has learned more about elevators, revolving doors, and roof leaks than most people should ever know. The real reason she has stayed in this field is the pure joy of watching students learn and grow.


With my work in Student Activities, the folks that I have learned the most from have also been PF workers. Electricians at BU have been THE BEST. I'll never stick another stake in the ground anywhere without worrying about possible power lines etc. running underground. I could not do my job without PF and all the unsung heroes there.
Jennifer Keegin
Comment posted 12/03/2010 2:39 PM
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