Student - 12 maart 2020

Diary of a caretaker - ‘Sobbing, she said sorry at least 10 times’


Idealis caretaker Eugene van Meteren comes across all kinds of things on his inspection rounds. And not always in the right place.

Eugene van Meteren works for Idealis as a caretaker. He writes about his experiences for Resource.

I go round the student flats at least once a year on a planned tour of inspection. What I’m interested in is security and hygiene. And this time, as usual, I’m in a flat walking through the common area when I see a bedroom door open. Out of habit, I glance in from the corridor. And I see a painted butterfly cut out of wood hanging prominently on the wall and bearing the name Sanne. ‘What a colourful and original work of art,’ I think to myself, ‘and so creative.’

When I get outside I suddenly get a funny feeling. Something is not right: I’ve seen that butterfly somewhere before. I walk on, casting my mind around, and suddenly I remember. This butterfly is normally by a tree on the Nijenoord Allee in Wageningen. It is a memorial for a girl who died in an accident on that spot long ago. And here it is now on the wall of one of our residents’ rooms.

Something is not right. I've seen this butterfly before

I decide to go back, and I knock on the door. A young lady opens the door with a friendly smile.

‘Good morning, Eugene. What can I do for you?’ she asks.

I look a bit concerned, point at the butterfly and ask how she came by it.

‘I found it on the side of the road recently, and I thought it would look nice in my room,’ she said.

‘I understand that it goes well with your décor, but do you know what it is?’ I ask.

She shakes her head. ‘This beautiful butterfly is a memorial for girl who died in an accident.’ Her face crumples and she bursts into tears. Sobbing, she tells me she had no idea and she says sorry at least 10 times. She promises me that she will put the butterfly back by the right tree that evening.

‘And I’ll light a candle for her,’ she sobs.

It’s not the sort of thing I usually come across on my inspection rounds, but I am glad I did spot the butterfly and that it is back by the tree. Back where it belongs. Back where it will stay