It is Monday morning November 16, and I am on my way to Kropswolde to interview Arend Kroeze. ‘Come in. Coffee?’ ‘Yes, please!’
We sit down at the kitchen table. It takes a while before Arend is in the right mood, but then he fires away. What follows is a selection of his stories and anecdotes.
It is 1986 and Arend is looking for a job. The job centre sends him to Sint Bernadette’s, a school for domestic science at the Vechtstraat. They have a vacancy for a janitor. Sint Bernadette’s has merged with the Roman Catholic Sint Martinus mavo, and that is where the interview takes place. It is a temporary vacancy, from January until the summer break. The interview goes smoothly, and two days later he is offered the job.
One month later the other janitor announced that he was going to resign. He urged Arend to apply for the job. Arend handed in his CV and was offered the job. In August 1986 he was transferred to Sint Martinus’, where he was employed by the new head Jan van der Hende. It was a small and well-organized school, and Arend liked his job and the general atmosphere. After the merger with the mavo the Bernadette building had to be cleared out. An avalanche of people came to take pots, pans, bowls and other household goods home. Arend offered to take the bigger domestic appliances such as cooking-ranges to a school in Poznan, Poland. This offer failed, because Arend would have to pay the import duties out of his own pocket. No way! Eventually the ranges ended up on the municipal scrapheap. What a waste!
In 1992 Sint Maartenscollege merges with the Roman Catholic Sint Martinus and the Protestant Schalm mavo. The prefix ‘Sint’ is dropped, and the new comprehensive school is now called ‘Maartenscollege’. Arend is transferred to location De Wijert. He commutes between De Wijert and De Schalm.
Sometimes his assistance is also needed in weekends, for instance when there is a leak in the roof of the gymnasium in De Wijert and rapid action is urgently needed. As it turns out, the floor is completely destroyed by the leakage. A couple of years later a similar accident occurs: a fire hose has burst (vandalism?) and according to the neighbours ‘the water came rushing from under the doors. Arend is summoned and again finds the gymnasium flooded, which can only mean one thing: roll up your sleeves and go for it!
In March 2000 the official unilocation of Maartenscollege opens its doors in Haren, where Arend is appointed as school technician. Dressed in his inevitable duster, he sees to it that all necessary materials are ready for the teachers, and if not he makes sure that he procures them. He gets along well with pupils and enjoys a pleasant cooperation with various colleagues. In 2011 Arend celebrates his 25th anniversary, on which occasion he decides to take advantage of the early retirement option.
When the tractor, which gardener Jos Redder used to cut the grass of the sports fields was dispensed with, Arend decided to buy it. It has been in his shed ever since and is still working!