The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

JOURNAL: Custodial Camaraderie

Photo by Keifer Russell

Through the good times and the bad times, the second-shift custodial staff here at Marquette are always there for each other. Whether it be a personal issue or an illness, three custodial members view their coworkers like family members.

If anybody’s having real problems, we try to help each other,” Marquette custodian Sam Shrank says.

Shrank has been working with Marquette custodial services for 16 years. Shrank had a cancer scare this past summer, requiring a surgery that kept him away from work. He held back tears describing the outpour of support he received from those among the 22 members of the second-shift custodial staff who work 3 p.m. to 10:30 pm on weekdays.

“I have the best coworkers you could ever have. It made me want to cry. I couldn’t believe it,” Shrank says. “They got me through it with no problem. They called me up and asked me how I was doing. It’s like a family. That’s why it’s nice coming to work every day.”

Michelle Blasier, a custodian at Marquette since 2010, says it was easy and important to support Shrank, upholding the belief of family within the workplace. 

“We were like, ‘We miss you, when are you coming back?’ and he said it made him wanna cry because we missed him,” Blasier says. “You’re never alone, there’s always gonna be someone there to help.”

30-year custodial staff member Margarita Hernandez advocates for this mentality of supporting coworkers not only when they need it most, but in everyday life.

“I always try to show love because I know what it’s like not to get it. So for me, I try to have that connection with people,” Hernandez says. “I do try to show my love to let people know I’m here if you need me, and I think that’s what it should be in every department because everybody needs somebody. That’s going to make a family.” 

Second shift supervisor Chuck Willer, a title he’s held since 2007, says he couldn’t do his job without the relationships he’s been able to make with his fellow second shifters, detailing his philosophy for a successful work environment. 

“I try to do this like a family atmosphere. We all work together, we all cover each other’s backs, the way it should be,” Willer says. “We’re trying to have a fun atmosphere because if you can’t work and have a little fun, it ain’t worth it.”

Aside from forming meaningful relationships with fellow custodians, the trio mentions the importance of formulating connections with students. Along with this sense of community, all three say they enjoy receiving acknowledgment for their hard work.

“I think the most important thing for me is when I do my job and the staff and the students acknowledge your work and they appreciate what you’re doing every day. That makes me happy and makes me want to come to work and do my job because I feel like they appreciate what I’m doing,” Hernandez says. “Out of the 30 years that I’ve been here, you see a lot. You see a lot of people come and go, you see a lot of buildings tear down and come up, and it’s good to see that.”

Hernandez shared a meaningful experience she had with an international alum who came back to campus with her family to show them around. The alum called Hernandez by name before sharing a hug and a career update that Saturday morning. 

Shrank made mention of a discontinued program that involved students working with the custodial staff. Unsure of whether it’s a budget issue or a decline in student interest, Shrank says the staff would love to be able to make these types of workplace connections with the student body, as well as avoid having to lift heavy wax buckets.

“I had about 10 students and nobody knew how to do any kind of floor work and stuff like that. I had to try to get everybody in line. But when I first came here, we all had blue shirts, right? And they would call me Papa Smurf and I had little Smurfettes,” Shrank says. “But now we have no students here.”

This story was written by Kevin Fitzpatrick. He can be reached at [email protected].

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Marquette Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *