By Alex Mikoulianitch
If a student happened to graduate from Harry S. Truman High School in the Bronx 33 years ago and came back for a visit, they would still find Michael Rosado working away meticulously, fixing up machinery, keeping the fields and being the all-around handyman he is so known for around the school.
Born and raised near Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Rosado recalls the hardships of growing up. Rosado’s father, who Rosado says knew six languages including French, Italian, Spanish and Filipino, died when Rosado was 16, leaving his mother to take care of the family.
“She had to take up the mother and the father load,” Rosado said. “That was kind of tough on her because she had to cook, check our homework, make sure we got the right education.”
Rosado’s original plan was to serve in the military after he graduated from high school, but a proposition from a friend to go work and help out the family changed those plans completely.
“A friend who worked at a school across from Truman High School offered me a summer job,” Rosado said. “I went there and—I was 20 at the time—I worked there for the summer.” Eventually, he says, they offered him a permanent job. That kicked off a daily routine that starts at 5:30 in the morning and ends at 4 in the afteroon.
Rosado’s official position is school cleaner, or janitor, but his duties encompass much more than just cleaning.
“If they need me to fix a machine, I’ll fix the machine,” Rosado said. “If they need me to fix a door, I’ll fix the door. If I have to work and go on the fields, I’ll go on the fields. So there isn’t exactly a specific title [for what I do].”
Looking back, he says, “I think the true reason I stayed at Truman High School for 33 years is the family I have there,” Rosado said. “All the workers there, my guys, we all chip in, we do what we got to do, we have a great principal who works with us, we have a family that makes me proud of the guys that I work with.”
When Rosado isn’t working with his guys at the school, he has hobbies to enrich his life in other ways. Rosado’s personal passion is cars. From a young age, he learned to work with cars, fix them and play around with the parts. Even today, a lot of his friends come up to him and ask for his expertise.
“On Sundays I go play basketball with all those guys that are over 50,” Rosado said. “And if it’s not shooting hoops, it’s probably working on a car. Saturday is my relax day, where I try to catch up with my family, and catch up on that lost time during the week.”
Rosado still lives in the Brooklyn neighborhood where he was born, with his wife and kids.
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