By Asia McGill
Floors were swept. Showers had been scrubbed. Hallways were vacuumed. This had become the weekly routine for the past 15 years for Rider’s sanitation worker, Sandy Marte.
Marte has maintained the cleanliness of the girl’s dormitory, Wright Hall, and worked five days a week. From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Marte constantly scoured and sanitized the third floor of the building.
Though Marte has dealt with big messes throughout her career, she never complains or makes a fuss about cleaning.
“I enjoy working here,” Marte said.
With headphones full of upbeat music and a gray broom in hand, she can often be found sanitizing the toilets, sinks and showers, mopping floors, emptying trash and vacuuming.
None of Marte’s work went unnoticed by students of Wright Hall. Though it is difficult to verbalize their appreciation to her due to the language barrier, students of Wright expressed how they wished she knew how much they appreciated her.
“When living somewhere so far from home, coming back to a clean and tidy environment brings me a level of comfort I didn’t know I needed,” said junior acting major Emma Brennan, a resident of Wright Hall.
Brennan was not the only student who felt this way, some even wished they could do more than just say “thank you.”
“Sometimes I wish I could give her and the other workers a water bottle or just a few dollars; they do so much all day,” said sophomore graphic design major Bralen Jones, a resident in Gee Hall.
Marte had not always worked as a sanitation worker, as she originally came from her home country of the Dominican Republic to the United States with her then-fiance.
Marte came to America and married her husband 28 years ago in search of a better life and job opportunities. Her home of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic was an island of paradise for her and her newlywed but was “too expensive to stay,” Marte said.
The couple knew when they left their homeland, it also meant leaving loved ones behind. Marte had wished to start a family but decided it was best to raise her future family in America.
The two packed their things and said their goodbyes, as they headed for a new life.
Marte and her husband had three children. Since her children spoke English, she had picked up on some vocabulary here and there, but not enough to carry a full conversation. Her children were there to help translate in public settings, but once she got to work she was virtually on her own.
English was hard for Marte, yet she managed to communicate in the small ways she could over the years. Though Marte’s job does not require too much interaction with others, at times she experienced bumps in the road when she tried to explain things to the native English speakers around her.
“Anytime I need help, I have to call someone to translate for me,” Marte said.
Though her language barrier created much difficulty within her work life, Marte always loved her job in the dormitories.
Though rare, there are times when the job becomes strenuous, such as when she has to load heavy garbage into the chute. Marte’s small frame is not always able to handle the weight of the waste and usually works on her floor alone.
Marte never minded sanitation work as a career but had bigger aspirations outside of the dormitory doors.
“I love my job, but I am tired,” Marte said. She had always dreamed of being a baker and wanted to specialize in baked goods for parties or events.
Her passion for baking began before she was a sanitation worker, but the opportunity did not seem fit for her expanding family at the time. Her dream to run a bakery grew stronger as the years went by, ready for a new path in her career.
Marte misses the island where her family was and hopes she can work enough to plan a trip back. “It’s so beautiful there,” Marte said. Her return to Santo Domingo would be something special, being she hasn’t been back home since she and her husband married.
Marte has thoughts of retirement but does not plan to leave Rider just yet.