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The Hoosierist: Germ Warfare

Custodian boot camp, a shifting 500, and used BlueIndy cars. Ask The Hoosierist.

Q: Are cleaning personnel getting any kind of new training in the age of COVID-19?
A: Being a custodian has always been tough. And now folks in that dirty, low-paying job (about $12.73 an hour in Indiana) are frontline soldiers in the battle to suppress COVID-19. “The biggest asks from customers lately are increased service frequencies and disinfection,” says Jon Adkins, vice president of marketing for ISSA, an international cleaning industry association. “We’re seeing customers pivot from viewing cleaning as ‘smells nice,’ to a critical means for removing harmful pathogens.” Local janitorial firms are, not surprisingly, rising to the challenge with new training programs to satisfy a more demanding clientele. “Before all this happened, I don’t know if I ever had a customer ask what type of disinfectant we use,” says Lee Putman, president of the custodial firm Stratus Building Solutions of Indianapolis. “But they sure are asking now.”

Q: The Indy 500 was rescheduled for August 23. Has the race’s run date ever been moved before?
A: According to Indianapolis Motor Speedway track historian Donald Davidson, with the exception of a few cancellations during WWI and WWII, the move to August this year was the biggest temporal disruption in the event’s history. He says the traditional Memorial Day start was selected because it fell during a lull in agricultural work, meaning the state’s farmers could set aside their chicken plucking and watch the race. Up until 1971, it was always held on the holiday itself (never the Sunday before, because Jesus). But in 1974, the 500 was moved back a day, presumably to give fans the Monday holiday to recover from their hangovers. During the race’s century-plus existence, the latest it has ever taken place was May 31, which would make this year’s August start—assuming it happens—a New. Track. Record.

Q: Is it possible to buy a BlueIndy car or have they all been dumped?
A: Sorry, you’ll have to find the cramped, underpowered, off-brand EV of your dreams somewhere else. BlueIndy originally deployed about 300 of the 67-horsepower cars for its local rideshare program, which ended in May. While the Italian-made lightweights were never mistaken for Teslas, they did have their advantages. You could park one in a space slightly larger than a Target changing room. But don’t expect to see any of the tiny cars in private hands. When BlueIndy folded here, the older models were stripped for parts and dumped, while the newer ones were shipped to freeway-crazy Los Angeles for use there. Which sounds as inhumane as dumping a boxful of kittens in the African savanna.

Have Indiana-related questions? Send them to [email protected]

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