Putting a Face on 2Fix
A couple of months ago, as nearly every other student who lives on campus can say, a mouse came into my room while my roommate and I were finishing homework. Naturally, we called 2Fix and shortly before they arrived, we were able to trap the mouse under our trash can. All 2Fix had to do was remove the mouse. Much to our fear, the employee came with only two mouse traps, something that confused my roommate and me since we’ve both seen how elusive mice are at AU. During the process of setting one of the traps, our mouse escaped from our upside-down trash can and ran into our friend’s dorm a few doors down just as he opened his door. My roommate looked at me in horror and our friend with pity as we tried to gather how a seemingly successful mouse removal could have gone so wrong.
As expected, stories such as my own negatively reflect on AU’s maintenance services. That said, as students, we tend to overhype many of these stories. They both disgust us and fascinate us. What I’ll try to do in these next few paragraphs is attempt the seemingly impossible: put a face on 2Fix and paint our facilities management in a positive light. The reality is that 2Fix is just a branch of AU’s far-reaching maintenance services.
My first attempt to try and find the office of 2Fix started with a quick Google search. Immediately I noticed that the location of 2Fix was on the lower level of the Asbury building. This is the where workers answer your calls, not where their office is located), but after chartering through construction in unfamiliar territory, I realized that simply finding the office would be difficult. I decided to enter the Osborn building instead, which required my AU ID, and I asked the receptionist where the office of 2Fix was located. She told me that someone from 2Fix wouldn’t be in until the evening, but that there was someone available I could direct my questions towards. As she called for him to meet me, I felt slightly scared. I had no idea who I’d talk to. Who was this person? Will he be receptive of my questions? Where the hell is 2Fix located? These questions and more would all be answered by the man opening the door to the lobby.
He introduced himself as Joseph and said he was Director of Facilities Operations and Facilities Management. As we entered his office for an interview, I looked around his office. He had photos of his friends and family in various parts of the office, and his window had a pleasant view of Reeves Field. At this point, I began feeling odd because I hadn’t expected to access 2Fix by simply walking into the Osborn building. My first question was “Where is 2Fix located?” and he calmly responded that 2Fix doesn’t have a physical location for students to go, only a call center. Questions that I originally planned on asking began to feel irrelevant as he explained to me how expansive facilities maintenance was and how 2Fix fits into the grand scheme of things. Although 2Fix has no receptionist building or “office hours,” plans to establish a location were currently under review.
Throughout my interview with Joseph, I noticed two things. He was way more friendly and receptive towards my questions than I initially thought. All my on-the-spot questions received a well-worded response, and many of his answers led to interesting conversations expanding beyond the world of facilities management. One thing that did strike me was that Aramark, the company supplying TDR, also handles AU’s custodial services. Every custodial worker you see on campus is employed through Aramark facility services, which, although part of the same overarching company, remains independently run from Aramark food services. Though it seemed like there was more to investigate there, there wasn’t much to dive into about facility services.
I left the Osborn building feeling a sense of wonderful confusion. On the one hand, my attempts to track the hidden 2Fix headquarters failed, but my conversation with Joseph reminded me that even services lacking a receptionist office have a human face behind their operations. Joseph acknowledged that 2Fix isn’t perfect, but that it wouldn’t stop them from trying to operate as efficiently as possible. After all, 2Fix receives an average of 40,000 to 50,000 work orders a school year, and with only a couple hundred staff members, limited resources can’t always be utilized in a timely fashion. Construction and numerous power outages in recent years have only compounded the problems faced by 2Fix and other AU maintenance services, but Joseph kept a contagiously positive outlook towards the future. He acknowledged that the construction would benefit AU sustainably.
Towards the beginning of the interview, Joseph remarked about how important AU’s model for sustainability would play for his ten-year-old son. With vivid imagery, he imagined his son attending college, a sustainable one, with technology that one could only dream of. This is the face of 2Fix, not of indifferent workers finishing a job, but people who genuinely want to make the university a better place.