Rule #18 – Leave It Better Than You Found It

Each February the Hyde-Bath basketball team and fans descend upon the Augusta Civic Center (ACC) for the state basketball tournament. One year as our fans were filing out of the ACC after a game, a janitor pulled me aside and said, “I probably shouldn’t say this, but me and my guys always cheer for Hyde at this thing. Not only do we love watching your players and your fans, we also know that we don’t need to clean up after the Hyde folks. Fact is, my guys fight over who gets the job of cleaning up the Hyde section after you guys leave.”

Years ago we established the ethic of “Leave it Cleaner than You Found It.” This is a step beyond “Pick Up After Yourself.” Once you step up to the higher standard, no longer is it acceptable to say, “I didn’t make that mess, so I don’t have to clean it up.”

I guess it all started decades ago during “away” athletic events when our coaches would get after the kids to make sure that they didn’t leave paper cups and athletic tape on the ground/floor. This evolved into, “Let’s be sure to clean up our area.” Before long, it reached a point where some of our teams would clean up their locker room no matter how clean it was when they arrived. This eventually became a trademark of Hyde athletic teams as reflected in the above story.

Ultimately, the ethic spread beyond sports and into classrooms, meeting spaces, dining areas, buses, sidewalks, even movie theatres. On face value, it’s really not that big a deal. Then again, the only difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little “extra.”

Onward, Malcolm Gauld