Conversation with Dan Langdon

by Sharla Svennes, Assistant United States Attorney

Dan Langdon standing outside the courthouse.Often my best days at the office are the days I’m met with Dan Langdon’s genuine smile on my walk in. Many times, I’ve been pulled from the continual organizing, planning, contemplating, and strategizing inside my own head by the authentic friendliness radiating from Dan’s grin as he looks up from the work he’s doing outside the federal courthouse in Sioux Falls – a pleasant and refreshing reminder of the good that remains in this crazy world of ours.  

After months of exchanging waves and hellos in passing, last week I was fortunate to get a few minutes to speak with Dan, and here are a few things that I learned:

Dan is a man of few words. Perhaps this is because his speech disability sometimes makes it more difficult to communicate effectively verbally, or perhaps he’s just someone who prefers to keep it short and sweet. Regardless, he is happy to chat, but you don’t have to worry about him talking your ear off!

Dan has worked at the federal courthouse for 11 years as a member of the janitorial team. His work involves tasks that include cleaning the bathrooms, mopping, and mowing the lawn. Dan’s favorite part of his job is mowing the lawn – he’s not sure what makes that part his favorite, but it is. 

What Dan truly enjoys most about his work are the relationships he has with the others who work at the federal courthouse. He’s proud to share that nearly everyone who works there knows him, and he enjoys working with them. 

When Dan isn’t working, one thing he enjoys doing in his free time is magnet fishing. For those of you who, like me, are unfamiliar with magnet fishing, Dan explained that it involves using magnets to fish metal things out of a body of water. Dan generally does his magnet fishing in the Big Sioux River, and the most interesting thing he caught was a horseshoe. 

Dan wishes more people knew that his favorite color is orange, and that he’s an Oakland Raiders fan. He roots for the Raiders because of his favorite NFL player, now-retired Napoleon Kaufman, who was a running back for the Raiders and who inspired Dan’s Christian faith. 

I enjoyed learning more about Dan during our conversation, but Dan likely doesn’t even know the most significant thing of which he reminded me: employing positive people has the power to influence not only our work environment, but also every person who encounters our work environment…even in passing. There is enormous value in having employees and colleagues who are reliable; but there is exponentially greater value in those who, like Dan, not only show up consistently to do good work, but also spread a little joy while they’re at it. Let’s all try to be a little more like Dan. 

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