Both swallowed in their job, the janitor in “Jorge the Church Janitor Finally Quits” by Martin Espada and the secretary in “The Secretary Chant” by Marge Piercy feel unappreciated and lost as employees. Jorge is “outside…of [Americans] understanding” and The Secretary is lost in her work and compares herself to objects such as her “hips are a desk.” The employees from these poems have become hidden behind their duties and are slowly sinking into the unknown.
“Jorge the Church Janitor Finally Quits” begins with Jorge’s point of origin. While working as a janitor, “no one asks where [he’s] from” assuming he’s “from the country of janitors.” In his everyday life, Jorge gets passed-by by different people, none of them knowing where he has come from or even basic things like his name. This makes Jorge feel uncared for, like he came with the buildings and will always do the duties no one else will.
Next, Jorge describes what he does in this job that all take for granted. He “hosts the fiesta of the bathroom, stirring the toilet like a punchbowl.” This is the only fun Jorge sees in his career. His chores are compared to his culture to show that he feels as though inanimate objects are the only ones that care about his upbringing. Even this enjoyment of his past is “lost when the guests complain about toilet paper.” As soon as he thinks someone cares about him, he is just buried under the demand of more toilet paper.
Jorge falls in and out of conformity as he works alongside the Americans by whom he is forgotten. He admits that they do talk about him, but all they say is “[he] is smart, but has a bad attitude.”