Custodians work to keep school clean

Students walk the halls: talking, laughing, and filling the school with dirt and grime. Shoes drag in mud, hands spread germs, and crumbs drop at lunch. Yet every morning when students flood the front doors, they are greeted by clean facilities thanks to the custodial staff.

Facilities contracts custodial services from American Building Maintenance (ABM). The company specializes in facility services, including maintenance, janitorial, and landscaping. Hired by companies, businesses or schools, ABM boasts its ability to take financial pressures off their clients through outsourcing.

The custodians from ABM work after school and extra hours when the school has special events.                                                           

When you guys are not here…it’s more relaxing for us. We’re not in a hurry; we still work though.

— Luis Perez

Jesselyn Perez has worked for ABM at SPA for nine months. Originally from Puerto Rico, Perez has been living in Minnesota for three years.

“I like the weather, winter, [and] the snow,” Perez said. “I see a lot of opportunity here.”

Luis Perez, supervisor of the cleaning crew, has been working with ABM for nine years and has been at SPA over a year. Perez, like many students, enjoys the school breaks.

“When you guys are not here…it’s more relaxing for us. We still do some work, detailing and…[on] carpets and floors…. We’re not in a hurry; we still work though,” he said.

Days off are a break from the normal efforts that go into keeping an entire school clean, but Perez says he doesn’t mind: “When there’s a lot of work, time goes faster,” he said.

Perez, a Minnesota resident for almost 32 years, loves the state for it’s varied weather, but takes a break from the cold to travel.

“We go pretty often to Cancun, Mexico. We’re planning to buy a property down there,” he said.

Aside from traveling in his free time, Perez also likes watching scary movies. His favorite film? The Exorcist.

“Right now the scary movies they make, they’re not scary,” he said. “When I take my kids to see scary movies they don’t even get scared, the little ones.”

When at work, Perez wishes students would throw all their garbage and recycling away.

“A lot of students don’t do that. They even hide papers or gum,” Perez said.

He also adds that students often don’t pay mind to him and his staff.

“It’s kind of weird cause a few times I say ‘Hi’ to students and some students ignore you, like you’re not there. From there I’m like why should I say hi?” Perez said. “When we say hi, it’s because we like to get along with everyone…we’re nice, we don’t got no problems with nobody right here.”

Isidro Pliego, custodian at SPA, likes working at the school, though it’s difficult.

“We always keep doing something,” he said. But Pliego says that students could do a better job of sorting their trash, “sometimes they mix recycling with the garbage.”

Having previously lived in Los Angeles, Pliego likes living in Minnesota.

“We have more opportunities here for jobs [and] schools for kids,” Pliego said.

Pliego enjoys Spanish music and watching movies. He doesn’t have many hobbies, but likes to use his free time to spend time with his family. Other than asking students to take more responsibility when sorting their garbage, “I’m happy to work here,” Pliego said.