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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Joan Puente smiles, even in the morning

By Leigh Bercaw

I shuffle down the hall to the bathroom three times a week at seven in the morning with my hair snarled and eyes red. Each time, my early morning acquaintance Joan Puente, custodian and friend, greets me with a smile.For someone who describes her past self as being “quiet, shy and backwards,” Joan sure does make a person’s early morning just a little more lively. She’s been working as a custodian for Macalester for 11 years now, a time happily spent even through the heat of the summer and the stress near graduation.

She enjoys the spontaneity and variety of her job, which is reflected through her friendly early morning greetings.

“It’s a variety of work,” she said. “You’re on your feet and you get to move around.”

Joan said, the best part of her job is the students.

“You see them when they’re freshmen and sophomores and then they just disappear,” she said with a chuckle.

She also added that the best time of year is graduation, when she sees former students.

“They go from kids to adults in just four years,” Joan said.

Joan has a myriad of stories from her custodial experiences. On the morning we spoke, she had just found a waterbed made of styrofoam packing peanuts and plastic cups.

“A couple years ago they found some guy naked in a tree,” she added with a grin. She took me upstairs to show me the waterbed, but it had already been moved-all that was left was a few stray chunks of plastic.

Outside of Macalester, Joan loves spending time with her family, especially her grandkids, whom she visits every other weekend. She also loves nature, likes to bike and go for walks.

“Someday I want to get a pair of binoculars and watch the birds,” she said as she got up to return to work.

With a “See you tomorrow,” she was gone, off to her custodial adventures, brightening up Macalester one bathroom and early morning encounter at a time.

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