Student Journalism at San Rafael High School

Off the Leash

Off the Leash

Off the Leash

Xavier Tobias is Here and There, All at Once

Trash? Heating and cooling? Repairs? A maintenance worker has to do it all.

Xavier Tobias, a member of the San Rafael maintenance team, lives in Fremont, which is three counties and over an hour’s worth of driving away from San Rafael. Every single day, for the past nine months, he’s worked on San Rafael’s campus. Tobias is needed in many places at school all at once and it is sometimes difficult to do it all, but he makes it happen. He always tries giving a hand with any ground work, big or small fixes in classrooms, and cleaning up the school. Specifically, he makes sure that air conditioning is working properly in classes, and that trash is picked up. 

“I just like it here,” he said. He’s been here before, just over a decade ago. Tobias attended San Rafael High School for part of his four years but then graduated from Terra Linda High School in 2013. He did not go to college after high school because he wanted to focus on work and making money. “There’s a lot of things in the real world that you can’t learn in school,” he said. 

Before Tobias worked at SRHS he would do tree services for his father’s company and he then became interested in working for the government, specifically because he heard the retirement was good, and he was also into trying something new.

Xavier Tobias was born in Fort Bragg, California and has a family background from Yucatán, Mexico. During his childhood, he remembered going to the market with his grandma and eating panuchos, which is a popular dish in Yucatán, and other desserts. With a son in Mexico, he said, “A lot of the work I do, I do it for my family.” This projects how family-oriented Tobias is. He does his best to balance work and still be in touch with family. 

When I asked Tobias what challenges he faced that made him the person he is today, he said the job he does at SRHS. “The challenge is the effort your colleagues put into their work[…]many are just coming here to get paid. I come here to learn new things and make San Rafael a better place[…] I want to give more, that’s why I’m here.”

Not only is Tobias coming here to accomplish the work he is assigned, but he also tries including himself in the SRHS community. “Xavier is a very kind person who cares about the school and all students. You may find him sometimes interacting with our newcomers or rooting on the soccer games during lunch. He is highly invested in making our school a better place and uses his skillset to ensure our facilities are the best they can possibly be,” said Mr. Oseguera. 

Tobias loves soccer and said his favorite team is Club America. “I like to watch the students and I’m glad the students are playing and staying out of trouble and gangs. My intention is to keep them focused in soccer and out of bad things,” he said. 

When many think of school custodians, they don’t realize the intense work they put into making your school a better and safer environment. At SRHS our custodians put in lots of effort to make sure SRHS stays clean for students to feel good in their school.  

It is important to realize the hard duties that custodians and maintenance workers have to face in their working conditions. Studies have shown that they are likely to have back problems from lifting heavy items and are more likely to be exposed to bacteria and diseases, and cleaning products can also expose them to dangerous chemicals. 

Regardless of the circumstances that Tobias is in, he still ensures that our school is always looking clean and organized.“He commutes a long distance from the East Bay and often picks up overtime, so he works, sleeps, and goes back to work! […] I ran into him last week and he had just finished cleaning the gym because the night staff was shorthanded,” said Ms. Morgan. 

After Thanksgiving break, many classroom heaters were broken and it was very cold. I was in Mr. Simmons’s sixth period class when Tobias came in to ask him if his heater was working. Mr. Simmons replied saying, “No, I think all the heaters are down.” Tobias told him he’d be back to look at it and walked out and checked in with Ms. Kilgariff to also ask if her classroom was having the same issue. 

The role of a maintenance worker takes a lot of responsibility. It is important to acknowledge the duties of their work and thank them for the campus that is able to continue functioning thanks to their work. 

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